Battle of Ideas

Challenging anti-Semitism on Gaza demonstrations

Author: 

Daniel Randall

On the 26 July London demonstration against Israel's assault on Gaza, I confronted a man who was carrying a placard which read “Research: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, with an image of a Star of David, dripping blood, with “666” in the centre.

What do anti-semitic slogans on pro-Palestine demonstrations tell us about the politics of the movement?

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The Collapse of The Socialist International in 1914

AT their Convention in Paris two weeks before the outbreak of the catastrophe, the French Socialists insisted on pledging all branches of the International to revolutionary action in case of a mobilization. They were thinking chiefly of the German Social Democracy. The radicalism of the French Socialists in matters of foreign policy was rooted not so much in international as national interests. The events of the War have now definitely confirmed what was clear o many then.

This is chapter 7 of Leon Trotsky's The War And The International, 1914

"Solidarity between Jewish and Arab workers is the only way to overcome the cycle of bloodshed" [2010]

Author: 

Yacov Ben Efrat

From Challenge Magazine. Original source here.

Analysis of the situation in Israel/Palestine after the flotilla massacre from left-wing Israeli magazine Challenge.

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Atomic Energy: for Barbarism or Socialism? A Socialist Manifesto From the Dawn of the Nuclear Age

A comprehensive Trotskyist response to the new age which opened with the American atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. It was published in Labor Action, New York, at the end of 1945.

A comprehensive Trotskyist response to the new age which opened with the American atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. It was published in Labor Action, New York, at the end of 1945.


"The impact of the bomb was so terrific that practically all living things, human and animal, were literally seared to death by the tremendous heat and pressure engendered by the blast." - From a Tokyo broadcast describing the result of the atomic bomb dropped by a Superfortress on Hiroshima.

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There are no replays in the class struggle! (1993)

Is direct action against an elected government compatible with democratic politics? One way to put this important question in perspective is to examine two events in the industrial struggle of the 1980s. Remember, according to the Labour leaders as we faced the Thatcherite onslaught, that direct action against a parliamentary majority, against its government, or against its police, is the greatest crime against democracy; it is the crime characteristic above all else of revolutionary socialists. Legality at all costs is better. So say the reformists. Look at the experience.

Is direct action against an elected government compatible with democratic politics? Examine two events in the industrial struggle of the 1980s.

The Wobblies

"AND WHAT does this entitle me to?'', asked the newly-joined member of the union on being given his red membership card — thinking, no doubt, of sick benefits and things like that.

The Industrial Workers of the World

The Collapse of the Socialist International in the First World War

100 years ago, in August 1914, World War 1 triggered a collapse of the Socialist International into national fragments. Max Shachtman reviewed the experience on the 20th anniversary.

“To forget is counter-revolutionary.”*

“If our resolution does not foresee any specific method of action for the vast diversity of eventualities,” said Jean Jaurès in urging the adoption of the famous anti-war resolution of the Second International at its special conference in Basel on November 24, 1912, “neither does it exclude any. It serves notice upon the governments, and it draws their attention clearly to the fact that [by war] they would easily create a revolutionary situation, yes, the most revolutionary situation imaginable.”

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Lenin: The collapse of the Second International

Lenin's analysis of the collapse of the Socialist International at the outbreak of war in 1914



Lenin's analysis of the collapse of the Socialist International at the outbreak of war in 1914


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9



PART 1

Marxist Theory and History: 

Could the miners have won in 1984-85?

The beginning of this month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the great miners’ strike. This article, by Sean Matgamna, written in 1992, at a time when the Tories were pushing through many pit closures, discusses the lessons of the heroic miners’ fight, and the effects of their defeat.


It is a famous picture, the one of Arthur Scargill being arrested at the “Battle of Orgreave”, on 30 May 1984, where miners fought a long battle with troops of police and with police cavalry at a coke depot outside Sheffield. It was one of the turning points of the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the miners’ strike.

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Women in the Paris Commune

Women’s role in the Paris Commune was not limited to the morning of March 18 when a crowd of working class women put themselves between the cannons in possession of the National Guard (the citizen’s militia) and the troops of the National Assembly, led by Adolphe Thiers; the action which sparked the revolution. Throughout the 72-day reign of the Commune, women organised, argued, theorised and fought alongside men to defend and develop the revolution.


The Clubs

Women's role in the Paris Commune of 1871.

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Czech Imperialism and the National Question in Central Europe (1938)

Between the two imperialists world wars the Marxists considered Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland to be imperialist powers, because in these three states there were oppressed national minorities – Croats, Kosovars and others in Yugoslavia, Slovakians and Sudeten ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, Ukrainians in Poland. If it could be taken apart from the entire context which in fact it had, and if German imperialism had not been German imperialism, Hitler's claim to the Sudetenland, where the majority wanted to unite with Germany, would have been more or less reasonable.

Between the two world wars Marxists considered Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland to be imperialist powers, because in these states there were oppressed national minorities

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The first "anti-Zionist" anti-war movement: "The Jews" in the Boer War (a Discussion on Israel, N. Ireland, apartheid S Africa)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna
The first "anti-Zionist" anti-war movement: "the Jews" in the Boer War, etc.

A) We are concerned with rights only for oppressed minorities. Israel is like apartheid South Africa.

Israel and the Mavi Marmara massacre (2010)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

An impersonator who looks like the country's leader murders him, takes his place, and thereafter deliberately leads the state to defeat and catastrophe. That was the plot of a Hollywood film I saw long ago.

Sometimes it is almost tempting to think up some such tale to account for Israel's behaviour - to conclude that a bitter enemy of the Jewish state and of its best immediate and long-term interests has somehow got control in Jerusalem and works relentlessly to undermine Israel.

The Mavi Marmara massacre flows from the whole policy of recent Israeli governments.

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Anti-semitism and anti-Zionism on the 1970s German left

Gerd Koenen, who in the 1970s, was a leading member of the Communist League of West Germany, an eclectic but numerically substantial Maoist (and pro-Pol-Pot) organisation, has recently published memoirs. He has learned some things over the years: and one of them, as this extract shows, is the rottenness of standard left "anti-Zionism".

His rethinking is relevant outside Germany, too.

The extract is from The Red Decade: Our Little German Cultural Revolution, 1967-1977, Gerd Koenen, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002.

Stan Crooke

Gerd Koenen, who in the 1970s, was a leading member of the Communist League of West Germany, an eclectic but numerically substantial Maoist (and pro-Pol-Pot) organisation, has recently published memoirs. He has learned some things over the years: and one of them, as this extract shows, is the rottenness of standard left "anti-Zionism".

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1940: Max Shachtman's reply to Leon Trotsky - A “petty bourgeois” opposition?

Where Is the Petty Bourgeois Opposition? A Repeated Challenge Remains Unanswered.


Where Is the Petty Bourgeois Opposition? By the SWP Political Committee minority, March 1940.

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Collapse and resistance: the workers' movement facing World War One

Translated extracts from Alfred Rosmer's The Workers’ Movement during the First World War which tell the story of how the French trade union federation the CGT collapsed.

In the twenty or thirty years before World War One, mass socialist and trade union movements were built across Europe, starting off very small in the 1880s and acquiring such strength by, say, 1905 that most of their activists believed that they would soon be able to overthrow capitalism.

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Rebuilding the left among young people

Ben Hillier, editor of the Australian socialist paper Red Flag, has written a reasoned and balanced article discussing the extent to which neo-liberalism has wormed its way into our daily lives and our thinking as well as into evil government policies (Red Flag, October 2013).

Socialist Worker increasingly tells us week after week that people everywhere are "angry", that the ruling classes are losing their grip, and that mobilisations are "brilliant".

In building a new socialist awareness, young workers are central.

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What was in the coffin at the funeral of socialism? (1990)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

BOURGEOIS propagandists and ex-Stalinists alike tell us that we are witnessing the end of socialism. Socialism is dying of shame, failure and self disgust before our eyes in Eastern Europe. Socialism has been tried and is now deservedly rejected as an all-round social and historical failure.

It is rejected most explicitly by the working class who, for example, gave the right the bulk of its vote in last month’s East German election.

What collapsed when European Stalinism collapsed?

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AWL: what we are, what we do and why we do it

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Over a period of two centuries and more, humankind has made tremendous strides in developing its power to control nature and, in terms of medicine and surgery in all their aspects, over itself. But we have proved as yet unable to break through into the higher stage of civilisation whose objective preconditions have long existed - the stage characterised by rational, human control over our society, and over nature, by a harmonious relationship with the eco-system on which everything depends.

We are still at the mercy of irrational social and political forces, even while our power to tame the irrational forces of nature, at whose mercy humankind has been throughout its existence, reaches an amazing and still increasing capacity.

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