Sunday, 11 April 2021

Marxism, Zionism and the National Question - Voluntary Federation, and Workers Self-Activity (2/3)

Marxism, Zionism and the National Question

Voluntary Federation, and Workers Self-Activity (2/3)

In the case of Israel-Palestine, the latter exists as an annex of the former. Where it suits it, for example, when it comes to providing COVID vaccines only to Jews, and not Palestinians, Israel claims that Palestine is autonomous, However, its clear that Palestine has no real autonomy. Israel controls the borders of Gaza, by land and sea, closing them by military force when it sees fit. It breaches those borders militarily at will, whenever it chooses to undertake attacks on Palestinians under cover of supposed policing actions. It controls utilities and so on. In the West Bank it has repeatedly settled Palestinian lands illegally, and created roadblocks preventing free movement of Palestinians across their own land. For all intents and purposes, all of Palestine, and all Palestinians live under Israeli jurisdiction, but without the political rights and freedoms of Jewish Israelis. This is even recognised by the UN.

We have, here, then, a situation similar to that of the oppressed nations under the Tsarist Empire, of Catholics in Northern Ireland, in the 1960's, or of blacks in the US, or of Native Americans in the US. Lenin's programme for the oppressed minorities in the Tsarist Empire was not to argue for their independence, and creation of new class states. It was only to argue for recognition of the right to self-determination should these nations choose to exercise it. To separate this from the use of "self-determination" by chauvinists, Lenin changed the formulation to "the right of free secession".  In the meantime, Lenin argued for a struggle waged by all workers for the maximum democratic rights and freedoms for all workers, including and especially those of the oppressed minority.

Similarly, absent any immediate likelihood of the establishment of a truly independent Palestinian state, Marxists have to deal with the reality as it exists, and not some idealist version of how we might want it to be. Whilst, like Lenin, we can acknowledge the abstract right of the Palestinians to their own state, that really does them no good whatsoever if there is no chance of it being achieved. Israel and the US have lyingly stated their commitment to a Two State Solution for decades, but during that time, it has become an ever more distant possibility. Israel has occupied Palestine whenever it chose; it has stolen more and more Palestinian land; it has turned the West Bank into a Swiss Cheese of Palestinian Bantustans and reservations, separated from each other, making any viable state impossible.

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