Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A comment on the situation in the Middle East by the Pakistani Marxists

This is reprinted from the Trotskyist In Defense of Marxism.

By Lal Khan
Monday, 23 July 2007

The insurrectionary take over of Gaza by Hamas marks a new tuning point in the bloody saga of the Palestinian movement - it marks a change that is spreading across a broad swathe of the Middle East. The internecine fighting between the main stream Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas has culminated in what some fear could be a schism in their putative state. The present conflagration has not only proved two-state solution to be a sheer utopia but it also sounds the death knell of bourgeois nationalism in the present epoch.

More than forty years ago, in a discussion in London comrade Ted Grant explained to the representatives of Al-Fatah and other left-wing factions that the only way out for the liberation of Palestine was through a revolutionary movement of the toilers on an irreconcilable class basis. He outlined the repercussions of individual terrorism in the name of armed struggle and emphasized that any negotiations with imperialism or the Zionist state would only reinforce the subjugation of the Palestinian masses and would be used to intensify their oppression.

Forty-four years, two regional wars and three Intifadas later, the plight of the Palestinians has gone from bad to worse. The flame of Palestinian nationalism has flickered and is on the verge of being extinguished. The pathetic state of Palestinian nationalism is reflected in the latest verses of the most celebrated poet of the nationalist movement of this tragic land.

O future: do not ask us: who are you?

And, what do you want from me?

For we too do not know.

The courageous and defiant movement of the masses for the liberation of Palestine with episodes of valour, innumerable sacrifices and dedication to the Palestinian cause by almost five generations has been the hallmark of mass resistance for half a century. Yet the ideology, methods and the character of leadership has brought the oppressed of Palestine to such a traumatic fate and a blind alley. The dreadful decline of Fatah is the cruel ramification of these policies of compromise.

The rise of Hamas is mainly due to the vacuum created by the degeneration and demise of the Stalinist/ nationalist left. Fatah under Mahmood Abbas has stooped so low that it is using Israeli and American supplied weaponry against their Palestinian brethren. Hamas is perhaps the first Islamic fundamentalist organization to take control of any territory in the Middle East. But like religious fundamentalists everywhere their honesty and piety are a mere veneer on the reality of lumpenised hordes drawn into violent and reactionary tendencies through the frustration of unemployment, poverty, misery and socio-political inaction of the leadership.

It is one thing to raise the aspirations and sentiments of an impoverished populace, but to establish order and bring to heel Gaza's tribal warlords, smugglers, criminal gangs and jihadists is beyond the capacity of Hamas. With 70% unemployment; despicable health and other social conditions, the raging poverty and violence cannot be resolved through the mythological dogmas and metaphysical rhetoric of Hamas. It has no scientific analysis, method, perspective or solution to the crisis.

Furthermore, there are such violent convulsions erupting that they are opening up cracks both in the Hamas and Fatah hierarchy. There is now an open split between Khalid Meshaal, the so-called supreme leader of Hamas, and Ismail Haniyah, the Hamas prime minister ousted by Abbas.

The followers of the left-wing Fatah leader Marwan Bargoughti (incarcerated in Israeli jails serving several life terms) are defiant against Abbas. The more he capitulates to imperialism and the more his stoogism is exposed, he will be confronted with an even bigger revolt from within the Fatah and the left organizations within the PLO.

The raging fires in Palestine will not be contained by so-called borders and the huge walls being put up by the Israeli reactionary state. The rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arab world are terrified. Linked with the ferocious resistance in Iraq, and the new wave of insurgency in Lebanon, the Palestinian inferno will not spare these reactionary, dictatorial Arab regimes.

Ironically this infighting amongst the Palestinians will send a very different and unprecedented message to the Israeli rulers. The demise of Palestinian nationalism will drastically dent the façade of Israeli nationhood.

The present rulers in the Arab world cannot and will not resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They have used this conflict as a source of connivance for their despotic rule for so long. But the rise of violence and contradictions in the Palestinian territories will ignite the seething discontent and anger amongst the Arab masses. As the curtain of Israeli national chauvinism falls, the reactionary, exploitive and brutal reality of the Israeli state and the ruling class shall be exposed to the Israeli proletariat.

The resurgence of the class struggle and revolutionary upheavals around the world, in the present epoch shall have a lightning effect upon the consciousness of the exploited workers and the masses in Palestine, Israel and the rest of the Middle East. The ruling classes have been discredited and exposed. Fundamentalism and nationalism have only brought misery, violence, bloodshed, deprivation and tyranny to the masses. As Hegel once said, "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

Mahmood Darvesh's verses are proclaiming the historical failure and obsoleteness of bourgeoisie nationalism. His pathos of Palestinian misery is painful yet announces the end of an era, an ideology. The only way forward for the genuine liberation of the Palestinian masses is through class struggle. Uniting the workers and the oppressed of all nations, religious, castes and races, this struggle can only succeed by overthrowing capitalism and imperialism through a Socialist Revolution. The Palestinians cannot achieve it on their own. Only through a collective and united class struggle with the Israeli workers and the oppressed masses of other countries of the region can a socialist victory be achieved. This victory is not only possible but the only way out of the wars, destruction, crusades, exploitation, hunger, misery, deprivation and bloodshed into which people of this region have been incarcerated for more than two millennia.

Lahore, July 33rd 2007



Mohamed A. H. said...

excellent post indeed!

I however don't agree that the failure of Hamas is intrinsic. This failure has much to do with the power the Israeli state has over the Palestinian economic resources than it has to do with Hamas itself. This is not to say that Hamas would have succeeded had these restrictions been non existent, simply Hamas is not tested, and I have strong evidence to suggest that they would have succeeded if those Israeli restrictions did not exist. These evidences are best represented by the economic success stories of muslim brotherhood in Egypt, those that have been recently attacked by the Egyptian governemtn, but also specially of the unions movement of the early 1990s which was as well aborted by Egyptian government (that is given the common knowledge that Hamas are simply the representatives of the Muslim brotherhood in Palestine, which is common knowledge).

The form of Islam presented by Hamas is very much compatible with modern secular views. The only point where they collide (which is in no way a small issue) is that this form of Islam is presented as an alternative mood of socio-economic structure to that of the current capitalist western states. It also collides with other moods of societal structuring such as the socialist trotskiest movement.

I would like to think that it should be given a chance by the wester capitalist states, and the only reason it is not given this chance is that is it a strong contender!

Nevertheless, this is an excellent post. Renegade once again proves she has not only the great looks (which I speculate) but also she has the brains :)

Frank Partisan said...

Mohamed: I think you are describing Sonia.

Hamas was at one time actually funded by Israel, as an alternative to Fatah, when it was leftist.

It doesn't have the tools needed to build a state of any kind. It reacts to events, rather than create events.

Graeme said...

the Israeli and Palestinian working class can end the war. good post.

beakerkin said...


Communists only end wars if they kill everyone.

The working class pipedream is less real than Spongebob. Revolutionary Koolaide pedlers or class warfare pimps like Ren count on your naivette as a means to justify his theft.

John Brown said...

Blustein: Go back to your blog, where you can laud your Nazi Grandfather.

A few things to say about this post. First, Hamas didn't take over anything in Gaza. Hamas heads the democratically elected government. Any intimation that a democratically elected government siezed control of that government is prima-facie suspect analysis.

You write, Ren, that "Hamas doesn't create events, it reacts to them." Nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas read the Zionist press and saw that the Dayton/Dahlan/Abbas clique was planning a coup. So they acted to stop it in Gaza.

That's why much of the Fatah leadership in Gaza and abroad (i.e., anyone not subserviant to D/D/A), quickly pointed out that what occurred in Gaza was NOT a Fatah vs. Hamas thing. It was a resistance vs. collaborator thing.

The writer makes it sound like Palestine has failed to obtain their freedom soley through the fault of its leadership. Nothing could be further from the truth. The destruction of Palestine at the UN was overseen by every imperialst power. The money, arms, and diplomatic support shoveled into Apartheid Israel for 60 years has made a true struggle for liberation virtually impossible. Blaming Palestine today for their suffering is much like blaming Jews for the holocaust.

In reality, the fault lies as much with the global left who has allowed their governments to fund Apartheid Israel.

The 'Marxist' left loves to fire off about how Hizbullah and Hamas are fundamentalist. But that's pure rhetoric. It has no meaning.

Materially, Hamas and Hizbullah gained popularity because of the work they've done building community support. So while the left may snipe, we may be better served by understanding the myriad ways they've developed an organic and MATERIAL connection with their people.

Read Nasrallah's dispatches during last Summer's war. His materialist analysis of the political, military, and diplomatic solution needs no qualificatiton.

The 'fundamentalists' in the Middle East have Apartheid Israel and Uncle Sam on their heels. Meanwhile, what have American or European Marxists done lately to end the siege against them?

Knowledge of self... a revolutionary virtue. To squarely blame Palestinian leadership for their suffering while ignoring their own impotence is sad & pathetic.

The writer speaks about Gaza as though Hamas has done nothing there for a month. The 'jihadis' were forced to surrender the BBC guy. Crime is way down, and the infighting among Palestinians has also ebbed significantly.

Not surprisingly, the terrain of struggle has moved to the West Bank, where the D/D/A clique now operates. And it's not just Hamas they're targetting in the West Bank.

The author ignores this. Instead, he tries to create his own reality. Reading many Palestinian blogs and news sites (IMEMC, Ma'an, PIC), I know of no split between Hamas factions (Zahar and Haniyah form the two wings and seem to be on the same page to me).

Finally, the author mentions Marwan Barghouti as an opponent of Abbas. I have no idea on what he bases this.

Marxists shouldn't engage in wishful thinking. From prison, Barghouti said that Palestinians should support the Abbas's Zionist Coup Gov't. I have blogged several times about Barghouti and do like him, but was very disappointed in his stance towards the Abbas coup.

Maybe this has changed since yesterday, when Abbas's Storm-Troopers attacked his family.

But I don't know.

What I do know is that the left around the world should put more effort into ending their home government's support for Apartheid and less effort into attacking the political inadequacy of resistance movements amidst genocide.

John Brown said...

Case in point: yesterday, in occupied Najaf, Abbas's Coup militia stormed in on a group of students holding a sit-in for some of their comrades kidnapped by Apartheid Israel.

And what did they do?

Join the protest?

Recommend socialist slogans rather than the 'fundamentalist' ones offered by the students?

Nope - they shot the students.

And so it goes in the West Bank. What's needed is a United Front against collaborators, Uncle Toms, and Sambos.

Once that is accomplished, the correct political line will emerge around the basic and fundamental principles of freedom of movement and the right to return.

liberal white boy said...

Outstanding analysis of the events in Palestine JB. I had similar thoughts as I read this post. Thank you for putting all this in perfect perspective. The depth of your understanding in some of these areas is truly amazing.

Frank Partisan said...

John Brown: It's an inside/ outside world. You are responsible for your destiny. Like the same people who led the US into war with Iraq, and had no strategy after Saddam fell, blame the anti-war movement for their loss. In the same vein why did Fatah degenerate? The roots are in nationalism itself. Arafat was so opportunist and degenerate, he told one audience he was for a two state solution and other audiences he told them he was for Israel's destruction. It is correct to support national liberation and the right to self determination. At the same time there is no such thing as revolutionary nationalism. In the end it is only substituting bosses.

Granted Hamas and Hezbollah aren't as fundamentalist as Iranian or Saudi Islamists. Still they are incapable of providing a program that can change the life of Palestinians or Israelis. In the end they are open to negotiation for any crumb they can get. Hamas was subsidized by Israel at one time, as an alternative to at that time "radical" Fatah.

Israel is no monolith. Since the fiasco in Lebanon the government approval is down, as social services are cut and corruption accusations surface. An Islamist movement is unable and unwilling to unite the potential revolutionary movement.

It's suicidal to politically support what will be in the end a reactionary political leadership. Islamism is always anti-communist.

Palestinian leadership has to be blamed for its destiny, just as American.

Anonymous said...

Materially, Hamas and Hezbollah gained popularity because of the work they've done building community support. So while the left may snipe, we may be better served by understanding the myriad ways they've developed an organic and MATERIAL connection with their people.

Islamic charities. This is the same way Moqtada al Sadr holds the impoverished Shia Iraqi's in Sadr City. al Sadr dispenses all religious charity (~10% GDP). And all of al-Sadr's ministers served in roles that provided health and welafare benefits to the people from positions in the Iraqi government. So if you were poor, you had to go through al-Sadr. Now if your a poor Pseudistinian, you HAVE ONLY Hamas to deal with.

Fatah lined their own pockets w/UN & European "donations" to the Psuedistinians, but Hamas stuck to the Islamic Fundamentalist Pogrom of Islamic Charities and out-bought Pseudostinian support.

Buying the "poor" vote is nothing novel, cute or clever. It's the way its' always been done. Only now, Hamas has the monopoly on religious AND state sponsored charities.

Anonymous said...

...and there's a huge difference between a Pseudostinian and other members of the "Arab Street".

Pseudostinians are stateless welfare cases 100% reliant on charity for their survival.

The rest of the Arab Street have "prospects" for a better life.

Anonymous said...

Freedom of Movement and Right to Return are pipe dreams. Get over them. The two state solution is what you'll get. And then Arab part of that will FAIL, leaving everything to Israel.

planetanarchy.net said...

The flame of Palestinian nationalism has flickered and is on the verge of being extinguished.

I couldn't disagree more. The Palestinians' desire for a state of their own (or "their" own if you want to put it in class terms) will remain as long as Israel oppresses them and an internationalist party is not political hegemonic in the Palestinian liberation movement.