Battle of Ideas

Reading on "left" anti-semitism

In the wake of discussions over anti-semitism in the Labour Party and beyond we collate here a series of articles, old and new, on the topic of "left" anti-semitism.

The anatomy of "left" anti-semitism

In the wake of discussions over anti-semitism in the Labour Party and beyond we collate here a series of articles, old and new, on the topic of "left" anti-semitism.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Leon Trotsky: Stalinism and Anti-Semitism

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

At the time of the last Moscow trial I remarked in one of my statements that Stalin, in the struggle with the Opposition, exploited the anti-Semitic tendencies in the country. On this subject I received a series of letters and questions which were, by and large – there is no reason to hide the truth – very naive. “How can one accuse the Soviet Union of anti-Semitism?” “If the USSR is an anti-Semitic country, is there anything left at all?” That was the dominant note of these letters.

The October Revolution abolished the outlawed status of the Jews. That, however, does not at all mean that with one blow it swept out Anti-Semitism. Trotsky on Stalinist ("Thermidorian") Anti-Semitism.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

A critique of Lenni Brenner's "Zionism in the Age of the Dictators"

Author: 

Gerry Ben-Noah

Ken Livingstone has cited, as evidence for his claim that "Hitler supported Zionism" in getting Jews to "Israel" in "1932", Lenni Brenner's book "Zionism in the Age of the Dictators". Review of Brenner's book by Gerry Ben-Noah.

Ken Livingstone has cited, as evidence for his claim that "Hitler supported Zionism" in getting Jews to "Israel" in "1932", Lenni Brenner's book "Zionism in the Age of the Dictators".

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Ken Livingstone and anti-Semitism (2002)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

On 4 March Ken Livingstone wrote a piece in the Guardian explaining where he stands on anti-semitism, what he thinks about the Israeli state, and why criticising the actions of that state is not anti-semitism. I wrote this letter in response. It wasn’t published.

Ken Livingstone's motley career includes associations with some very politically unsavoury forces.

Issues and Campaigns: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

How to tackle “left" anti-semitism

Author: 

Michael Elms

A series of incidents in the Labour Party and in the student left over the last few months have highlighted the issue of “left-wing" anti-semitism.

A series of incidents in the Labour Party and in the student left over the last few months have highlighted the issue of “left-wing" anti-semitism.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trade Unions: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

What is left anti-semitism?

The fact that their proponents are surely not racists does not answer the questions raised by root-and-branch "smash Israel" agitational themes.

What is “left-wing anti-semitism”? Where is it manifested? What is to be done about it?

There are three difficulties, three confusions and obfuscations, that stand in the way of rational discussion of what we mean by “left-wing anti-semitism”.

The first is that left-wing anti-semitism knows itself by another and more self-righteous name, “anti-Zionism”. Often, your left-wing anti-semite sincerely believes that he or she is only an anti-Zionist, only a just if severe critic of Israel.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Revolutionary socialist NUS exec member Omar Raii's election speech

At the 2016 National Union of Students conference, Workers' Liberty supporter Omar Raii, a student activist at UCL, was elected to the National Executive Council alongside fellow NCAFC candidates Ana Oppenheim and Sahaya James, joining several other NCAFCers on the committee. This was Omar's election speech on the day (people running for the part-time bit of the NEC, the Block of 15, only get 90 seconds!)

***

At the 2016 National Union of Students conference, Workers' Liberty supporter Omar Raii was elected to its National Executive Council.

Trade Unions: 

The Stalinist roots of left anti-Semitism

Author: 

Stan Crooke
The Stalinist roots of left anti-Semitism

In the 1970s the rulers of the USSR launched a sustained 'anti-Zionist' campaign, in fact anti-semitic.
No surprise. But an examination of the publications from that campaign shows something much more shocking than the fact that the old Stalinist despots were ready to use any sort of reactionary prejudice for their own ends. It demonstrates that much of what many British and international leftists - even Trotskyists - say about Israel is an indirect and unwitting copy of the Stalinists' efforts at constructing a Marxist-sounding gloss on old anti-semitic themes.

Gaddafi, Ken Livingstone, Anti-Semitism, and the left

In the 1980s, fervent - and paid - supporters of Gaddafi were accepted by many as a respectable section of the British left! This article from Socialist Organiser 343, 28 January 1988, tells about it, and the lessons we must learn.


Do you like shoddy thrillers? Try this story, then.

The cast of characters:

A very well-known actress and film star, Vanessa Redgrave.

Her brother, a less well-known actor, Corin Redgrave.

Colonel Gaddafi, military dictator of Libya.

Various unnamed members of the Libyan intelligence service.

In the 1980s, fervent - and paid - supporters of Gaddafi were accepted by many as a respectable section of the British left! This article from Socialist Organiser, 28 January 1988, tells about it, and the lessons we must learn.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

“Left” anti-semitism is no myth

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

The charge of “anti-semitism” is thrown at critics of Israel by the crassest of the uncritical, and sometimes paranoid, apologists for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians?

This is true.

Guardian writer makes excuses for "Left wing" anti-Semitism

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

James Connolly's The Legacy

Come here my son, and for a time put up your childish play,
Draw nearer to your father’s bed, and lay your games away.
No sick man’s ’plaint is this of mine, ill-tempered at your noise,

James Connolly's The Legacy: The Dying Socialist to His Son is a powerful exposition in verse of the socialist view of working people throughout history.

Around the world: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Liam Daltun: 50 years after the Easter Rising, a Socialist Republican's "Reflections on the Easter jamboree"

Author: 

Liam Daltun

Introductory note.

On the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Socialist Republican Liam Daltun Reflects on the Irish state's celebration of the Rising.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Oppose all nationalisms

Author: 

Luke Hardy

In his article Proud to be a Zionist (Solidarity 400), Eric Lee argued “a Zionist is a person who supports the Jewish people’s right to a national homeland.”

Zionism (which today should be more accurately called Israeli nationalism) is not uniquely evil, as some on the left whose anti-Zionism flirts with anti-semitism would have us believe. Yet neither should it be exempt from ruthless criticism of all nationalisms and chauvinisms — the enemies of the international workers’ movement.

Publications: 

Around the world: 

NUS: the left we have and the left we need

Author: 

Workers' Liberty students

At the National Union of Students conference (19-21 April, Brighton), the NUS right (broadly right-wing Labour or similar but less political) and left (broadly soft left, in many cases not much left of the right, shaped by identity politics* and overly simplistic, reactionary anti-imperialism**) will struggle for dominance. The harder, class-struggle left, shading off into the soft left, is the third force.

At the National Union of Students conference (19-21 April, Brighton), the NUS right (broadly right-wing Labour or similar but less political) and left (broadly soft left, in many cases not much left of the right, shaped by identity politics and third worldism/reactionary anti-imperialism) will struggle for dominance. The harder, class-struggle left is the third force.

Trade Unions: 

Fact and fiction about the Kurdistan row in NUS

Author: 

Daniel Cooper, NUS National Executive Committee member and AWL students

I have read on social media various criticisms of my report of the September NUS National Executive Council meeting. Here are some thoughts in response.

Didn't you go to the press about the NUS Black Students' Officer, the row about Kurdistan and ISIS?

A response to the row about Kurdistan in the National Union of Students in late 2014.

Trade Unions: 

Around the world: 

The economic problem is not overspend

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s speech about “fiscal responsibility” on 11 March was probably intended to buy him space to attack Osborne’s 16 March Budget cuts. However, all the anxious promises that a future Labour government will balance current spending with current revenues — although Osborne still doesn’t do that after six years as chancellor — only feed the superstition that the economic problems since 2008 are due to the Blair and Brown Labour governments “overspending”. They aren’t.

The reason for the crash and the slump was the giddy profiteering and speculating by the banks, not public spending.

Issues and Campaigns: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

What Socialists Want

Author: 

William Morris
A 1887 article by William Morris.

Socialists no more than other people believe that persons are naturally equal: there are amongst men all varieties of disposition, and desires, and degrees of capacity; nevertheless these differences are inequalities are very much increased by the circumstances amongst which a man lives and by those that surrounded the lives of his parents: and these circumstances are more or less under the control of society, that is of the ordered arrangement of persons among which we live.

United Europe and the Marxist tradition

Working-class socialists will advise workers how to vote in the UK’s European Union (EU) in/out referendum by addressing the actual question on the ballot paper and by evaluating the known, quantifiable consequences of the options. Judged on the basis of workers’ interests, it is clear that however much the EU is a capitalist club, however neoliberal it is, however hostile it plainly is to migrants and refugees seeking shelter – the alternative of “Britain out” in today’s conditions will be far worse.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

A coup in Brazil?

Author: 

Alfredo Saad Filho

Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis. The machinery of the state jams; the veils of consent are torn asunder; and the tools of power appear disturbingly naked. Brazil is living through one of those moments — it is dreamland for social scientists; a nightmare for everyone else.

Alfredo Saad Filho writes on the right-wing mobilisation against Dilma Rousseff and the PT government.

Publications: 

Around the world: 

UCLU motion on free organisation and speech on campus

Author: 

Omar Raii, former UCLU Campaigns and External Affairs Officer (2015-16)
Policy on why student unions should fight for freedom of speech and organisation on campus, passed by University College London SU.

When this motion was passed last year, the arguments against came not from the right, but from self-defined leftists who argued that it may be necessary from time to time to stop speakers with objectionable views (for example misogynists, supporters of UKIP, etc.) from coming on to campus, in order to protect oppressed groups. We replied that freedom of speech is especially important for oppressed groups, who are the most vulnerable when it comes to government censorship.

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