Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Joined: 27 Sep 2005
|Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:52 pm Post subject: EU Dictatorship - Former Soviet Dissident Warns
|Bold by me-interesting piece by someone who has seen certain documents high up
Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship
Monday June 25, 2007
Vladimir Bukovksy, the 63-year old former Soviet dissident, fears that the European Union is on its way to becoming another Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered in Brussels last week Mr Bukovsky called the EU a “monster” that must be destroyed, the sooner the better, before it develops into a fullfledged totalitarian state.
Mr Bukovsky paid a visit to the European Parliament on Thursday at the invitation of Fidesz, the Hungarian Civic Forum. Fidesz, a member of the European Christian Democrat group, had invited the former Soviet dissident over from England, where he lives, on the occasion of this year’s 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. After his morning meeting with the Hungarians, Mr Bukovsky gave an afternoon speech in a Polish restaurant in the Trier straat, opposite the European Parliament, where he spoke at the invitation of the United Kingdom Independence Party, of which he is a patron.
An interview with Vladimir Bukovsky about the impending EUSSR
In his speech Mr Bukovsky referred to confidential documents from secret Soviet files which he was allowed to read in 1992. These documents confirm the existence of a “conspiracy” to turn the European Union into a socialist organization. I attended the meeting and taped the speech. A transcript, as well as the audio fragment (approx. 15 minutes) can be found below. I also had a brief interview with Mr Bukovsky (4 minutes), a transcript and audio fragment of which can also be found below. The interview about the European Union had to be cut short because Mr Bukovsky had other engagements, but it brought back some memories to me, as I had interviewed Vladimir Bukovsky twenty years ago, in 1986, when the Soviet Union, the first monster that he so valiantly fought, was still alive and thriving.
Mr Bukovsky was one of the heroes of the 20th century. As a young man he exposed the use of psychiatric imprisonment against political prisoners in the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1917-1991) and spent a total of twelve years (1964-1976), from his 22nd to his 34th year, in Soviet jails, labour camps and psychiatric institutions. In 1976 the Soviets expelled him to the West. In 1992 he was invited by the Russian government to serve as an expert testifying at the trial conducted to determine whether the Soviet Communist Party had been a criminal institution. To prepare for his testimony Mr Bukovsky was granted access to a large number of documents from Soviet secret archives. He is one of the few people ever to have seen these documents because they are still classified. Using a small handheld scanner and a laptop computer, however, he managed to copy many documents (some with high security clearance), including KGB reports to the Soviet government.
An interview with Vladimir Bukovsky
Paul Belien: You were a very famous Soviet dissident and now you are drawing a parallel between the European Union and the Soviet Union. Can you explain this?
Vladimir Bukovsky: I am referrring to structures, to certain ideologies being instilled, to the plans, the direction, the inevitable expansion, the obliteration of nations, which was the purpose of the Soviet Union. Most people do not understand this. They do not know it, but we do because we were raised in the Soviet Union where we had to study the Soviet ideology in school and at university. The ultimate purpose of the Soviet Union was to create a new historic entity, the Soviet people, all around the globe. The same is true in the EU today. They are trying to create a new people. They call this people “Europeans”, whatever that means.
According to Communist doctrine as well as to many forms of Socialist thinking, the state, the national state, is supposed to wither away. In Russia, however, the opposite happened. Instead of withering away the Soviet state became a very powerful state, but the nationalities were obliterated. But when the time of the Soviet collapse came these suppressed feelings of national identity came bouncing back and they nearly destroyed the country. It was so frightening.
PB: Do you think the same thing can happen when the European Union collapses?
VB: Absolutely, you can press a spring only that much, and the human psyche is very resilient you know. You can press it, you can press it, but don’t forget it is still accumulating a power to rebound. It is like a spring and it always goes to overshoot.
PB: But all these countries that joined the European Union did so voluntarily.
VB: No, they did not. Look at Denmark which voted against the Maastricht treaty twice. Look at Ireland [which voted against the Nice treaty]. Look at many other countries, they are under enormous pressure. It is almost blackmail. Switzerland was forced to vote five times in a referendum. All five times they have rejected it, but who knows what will happen the sixth time, the seventh time. It is always the same thing. It is a trick for idiots. The people have to vote in referendums until the people vote the way that is wanted. Then they have to stop voting. Why stop? Let us continue voting. The European Union is what Americans would call a shotgun marriage.
PB: What do you think young people should do about the European Union? What should they insist on, to democratize the institution or just abolish it?
VB: I think that the European Union, like the Soviet Union, cannot be democratized. Gorbachev tried to democratize it and it blew up. This kind of structures cannot be democratized.
PB: But we have a European Parliament which is chosen by the people.
VB: The European Parliament is elected on the basis of proportional representation, which is not true representation. And what does it vote on? The percentage of fat in yoghurt, that kind of thing. It is ridiculous. It is given the task of the Supreme Soviet. The average MP can speak for six minutes per year in the Chamber. That is not a real parliament.
Transcript of Mr Bukovsky’s Brussels speech
Listen to it here
In 1992 I had unprecedented access to Politburo and Central Committee secret documents which have been classified, and still are even now, for 30 years. These documents show very clearly that the whole idea of turning the European common market into a federal state was agreed between the left-wing parties of Europe and Moscow as a joint project which [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev in 1988-89 called our “common European home.”
The idea was very simple. It first came up in 1985-86, when the Italian Communists visited Gorbachev, followed by the German Social-Democrats. They all complained that the changes in the world, particularly after [British Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher introduced privatisation and economic liberalisation, were threatening to wipe out the achievement (as they called it) of generations of Socialists and Social-Democrats – threatening to reverse it completely. Therefore the only way to withstand this onslaught of wild capitalism (as they called it) was to try to introduce the same socialist goals in all countries at once. Prior to that, the left-wing parties and the Soviet Union had opposed European integration very much because they perceived it as a means to block their socialist goals. From 1985 onwards they completely changed their view. The Soviets came to a conclusion and to an agreement with the left-wing parties that if they worked together they could hijack the whole European project and turn it upside down. Instead of an open market they would turn it into a federal state.
According to the [secret Soviet] documents, 1985-86 is the turning point. I have published most of these documents. You might even find them on the internet. But the conversations they had are really eye opening. For the first time you understand that there is a conspiracy – quite understandable for them, as they were trying to save their political hides. In the East the Soviets needed a change of relations with Europe because they were entering a protracted and very deep structural crisis; in the West the left-wing parties were afraid of being wiped out and losing their influence and prestige. So it was a conspiracy, quite openly made by them, agreed upon, and worked out.
In January of 1989, for example, a delegation of the Trilateral Commission came to see Gorbachev. It included [former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro] Nakasone, [former French President Valéry] Giscard d’Estaing, [American banker David] Rockefeller and [former US Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger. They had a very nice conversation where they tried to explain to Gorbachev that Soviet Russia had to integrate into the financial institutions of the world, such as Gatt, the IMF and the World Bank.
In the middle of it Giscard d’Estaing suddenly takes the floor and says: “Mr President, I cannot tell you exactly when it will happen – probably within 15 years – but Europe is going to be a federal state and you have to prepare yourself for that. You have to work out with us, and the European leaders, how you would react to that, how would you allow the other Easteuropean countries to interact with it or how to become a part of it, you have to be prepared.”
This was January 1989, at a time when the  Maastricht treaty had not even been drafted. How the hell did Giscard d’Estaing know what was going to happen in 15 years time? And surprise, surprise, how did he become the author of the European constitution [in 2002-03]? A very good question. It does smell of conspiracy, doesn’t it?
Luckily for us the Soviet part of this conspiracy collapsed earlier and it did not reach the point where Moscow could influence the course of events. But the original idea was to have what they called a convergency, whereby the Soviet Union would mellow somewhat and become more social-democratic, while Western Europe would become social-democratic and socialist. Then there will be convergency. The structures have to fit each other. This is why the structures of the European Union were initially built with the purpose of fitting into the Soviet structure. This is why they are so similar in functioning and in structure.
It is no accident that the European Parliament, for example, reminds me of the Supreme Soviet. It looks like the Supreme Soviet because it was designed like it. Similary, when you look at the European Commission it looks like the Politburo. I mean it does so exactly, except for the fact that the Commission now has 25 members and the Politburo usually had 13 or 15 members. Apart from that they are exactly the same, unaccountable to anyone, not directly elected by anyone at all. When you look into all this bizarre activity of the European Union with its 80,000 pages of regulations it looks like Gosplan. We used to have an organisation which was planning everything in the economy, to the last nut and bolt, five years in advance. Exactly the same thing is happening in the EU. When you look at the type of EU corruption, it is exactly the Soviet type of corruption, going from top to bottom rather than going from bottom to top.
If you go through all the structures and features of this emerging European monster you will notice that it more and more resembles the Soviet Union. Of course, it is a milder version of the Soviet Union. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that it has a Gulag. It has no KGB – not yet – but I am very carefully watching such structures as Europol for example. That really worries me a lot because this organisation will probably have powers bigger than those of the KGB. They will have diplomatic immunity. Can you imagine a KGB with diplomatic immunity? They will have to police us on 32 kinds of crimes – two of which are particularly worrying, one is called racism, another is called xenophobia. No criminal court on earth defines anything like this as a crime [this is not entirely true, as Belgium already does so – pb]. So it is a new crime, and we have already been warned. Someone from the British government told us that those who object to uncontrolled immigration from the Third World will be regarded as racist and those who oppose further European integration will be regarded as xenophobes. I think Patricia Hewitt said this publicly.
Hence, we have now been warned. Meanwhile they are introducing more and more ideology. The Soviet Union used to be a state run by ideology. Today’s ideology of the European Union is social-democratic, statist, and a big part of it is also political correctness. I watch very carefully how political correctness spreads and becomes an oppressive ideology, not to mention the fact that they forbid smoking almost everywhere now. Look at this persecution of people like the Swedish pastor who was persecuted for several months because he said that the Bible does not approve homosexuality. France passed the same law of hate speech concerning gays. Britain is passing hate speech laws concerning race relations and now religious speech, and so on and so forth. What you observe, taken into perspective, is a systematic introduction of ideology which could later be enforced with oppressive measures. Apparently that is the whole purpose of Europol. Otherwise why do we need it? To me Europol looks very suspicious. I watch very carefully who is persecuted for what and what is happening, because that is one field in which I am an expert. I know how Gulags spring up.
It looks like we are living in a period of rapid, systematic and very consistent dismantlement of democracy. Look at this Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. It makes ministers into legislators who can introduce new laws without bothering to tell Parliament or anyone. My immediate reaction is why do we need it? Britain survived two world wars, the war with Napoleon, the Spanish Armada, not to mention the Cold War, when we were told at any moment we might have a nuclear world war, without any need for introducing this kind legislation, without the need for suspending our civil liberaties and introducing emergency powers. Why do we need it right now? This can make a dictatorship out of your country in no time.
Today’s situation is really grim. Major political parties have been completely taken in by the new EU project. None of them really opposes it. They have become very corrupt. Who is going to defend our freedoms? It looks like we are heading towards some kind of collapse, some kind of crisis. The most likely outcome is that there will be an economic collapse in Europe, which in due time is bound to happen with this growth of expenses and taxes. The inability to create a competitive environment, the overregulation of the economy, the bureaucratisation, it is going to lead to economic collapse. Particularly the introduction of the euro was a crazy idea. Currency is not supposed to be political.
I have no doubt about it. There will be a collapse of the European Union pretty much like the Soviet Union collapsed. But do not forget that when these things collapse they leave such devastation that it takes a generation to recover. Just think what will happen if it comes to an economic crisis. The recrimination between nations will be huge. It might come to blows. Look to the huge number of immigrants from Third World countries now living in Europe. This was promoted by the European Union. What will happen with them if there is an economic collapse? We will probably have, like in the Soviet Union at the end, so much ethnic strife that the mind boggles. In no other country were there such ethnic tensions as in the Soviet Union, except probably in Yugoslavia. So that is exactly what will happen here, too. We have to be prepared for that. This huge edifice of bureaucracy is going to collapse on our heads.
This is why, and I am very frank about it, the sooner we finish with the EU the better. The sooner it collapses the less damage it will have done to us and to other countries. But we have to be quick because the Eurocrats are moving very fast. It will be difficult to defeat them. Today it is still simple. If one million people march on Brussels today these guys will run away to the Bahamas. If tomorrow half of the British population refuses to pay its taxes, nothing will happen and no-one will go to jail. Today you can still do that. But I do not know what the situation will be tomorrow with a fully fledged Europol staffed by former Stasi or Securitate officers. Anything may happen.
We are losing time. We have to defeat them. We have to sit and think, work out a strategy in the shortest possible way to achieve maximum effect. Otherwise it will be too late. So what should I say? My conclusion is not optimistic. So far, despite the fact that we do have some anti-EU forces in almost every country, it is not enough. We are losing and we are wasting time.
Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Joined: 27 Sep 2005
|Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:17 pm Post subject:
|An analysis of the Jew in the Trotskyist movements worldwide...
>From Victim to Shylock and Oppressor:
The New Image of the Jew in the Trotskyist Movement
By Werner Cohn
© Werner Cohn, 1991
Journal of Communist Studies (London), vol. 7, no. 1, March 1991, pp.
Leon Trotsky and the Jews
Jews and the pre-War Trotskyist movement
Trotskyism and the War: The Main Enemy is at Home !
Trotskyism after the 1967 War: Against Zionism and
The 'Usurers' of Abram Leon
The Jews of Israel: An Oppressor Nation
The Trotskyist Groups Today: Variety in Consensus
Abstract: After the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, a change took place in
Trotskyist positions concerning Jews. The earlier positions saw Jews
as one of the oppressed peoples of the world. While the movement has
always opposed Zionism, earlier pronouncements routinely coupled this
opposition with denunciations of what where seen as anti-Semitic
aspects of the Arab nationalist movement. After 1967, most sections of
the Trotskyist movement began to characterize the Jews of Israel as an
'oppressor nation' and called for the destruction of Israel. The
movement also began to distribute an earlier publication that
characterized the Jewish tradition as one of usury.
When Karl Marx was a young man of twenty-six and some time before he
wrote any of the works that were to make him world-famous, he
published an essay of about eleven thousand words 'on the Jewish
question,' Zur Judenfrage. (1) In the course of this essay Marx made
some extremely hostile comments on Jews, most notably accusing them of
"money-mindedness." This little essay stands isolated -- in both
subject matter and spirit -- from the opus of the more mature Marx,
and has generally been ignored by all the factions of the Marxist
Ignored, that is, until it was resurrected by the post-Trotsky
Trotskyists after the Arab-Israel war of 1967. As I shall show, this
turn came as part of general post-War re-orientation of the Trotskyist
movement and involved a repudiation of positions taken by Trotsky.
Trotskyism today, fifty years after the death of its founder, is
divided into numerous groups and grouplets, each claiming to be more
faithful than the others to Trotsky's vision of a Fourth
International. The major formations are in France, Britain, and the
United States, but there are also groups in South America, Sri Lanka,
and other countries. Except for two groups in Britain, the movement
can hardly be said to be very influenctial anywhere.(3) But through
its great earnestness, its faithfulness to Marxist and Leninist texts
and often to the spirit of Marx, and perhaps through its very
fractiousness and combativeness, the Trotskyist movement may well
serve as one of the important case studies of Marxism and its
Leon Trotsky and the Jews
The Jewish origins and the original Jewish name of Trotsky -- Lev
Davidovich Bronstein -- were well known in his lifetime. Unlike Marx,
Trotsky was never baptized in the Christian faith, and, though a
staunch atheist, he never denied his Jewishness to himself or to
In the whole period after the Russian revolution of 1917, Trotsky was
a faithful disciple of Lenin's, and, until he was displaced by rivals
after Lenin's death, Trotsky was generally regarded as the second man,
after Lenin, in the Bolshevist leadership. On the question of Jews,
Lenin the non-Jew andTrotsky the Jew expressed themselves in almost
identical terms. The emphasis was always on the evils of anti-
Semitism, with opposition to any form of Jewish 'particularism,'
either in the form of Bundism or Zionism, playing a distinctly
secondary role. Though both Lenin and Trotsky prided themselves on
their unquestioning discipleship to Marx, neither ever voiced Marx's
negative sentiments concerning Jews; in fact, as far as can be
determined, neither ever mentioned Marx's writings on the Jews. By the
same token, of course, it is also true that they never criticized Marx
on this account.(5)
As is well known, Trotsky and his supporters in the 'Left Opposition'
became the object of a most vicious campaign of vilification at the
hand of their erstwhile Bolshevist comrades. The campaign began in the
middle 1920s and utilized as one of its weapons -- through innuendo
and indirection -- the exploitation of popular Russian anti-Semitism.
Trotsky and Lenin had taught that anti-Semitism would naturally die
once capitalism is defeated and a 'workers state' established. By
February of 1937 Trotsky saw how wrong he had been in this and wrote
his now-famous article 'Thermidor and Anti-Semitism.' Here he exposed
not only Stalin's use of anti-Semitism but he also acknowledged that
the problem of Jews in European society is more complex than
Communists had thought it to be. This article was not published until
after Trotsky's death, and then not by his own closest supporters but
by the 'Shachtmanites,' the by then schismatic group whom he had
fought so bitterly in the last few months of his life.(6)
Nedava has suggested that Trotsky himself used a very subtle form of
anti-Semitism in this last faction fight. (7)Trotsky and his immediate
followers (James P. Cannon and the 'Cannonites') accused the
opposition (Max Shachtman and the 'Shachtmanites') of being more
'petty-bourgeois' and less 'proletarian' than they. The
'Shachtmanites' had a greater following in the New York local, which
was also more Jewish in membership than the rest of the country. Some
of the members of the Shachtman group, indeed, accused the
'Cannonites' of 'catering to prejudices.' (
I was personally acquainted with the Trotskyist movement in those days
and I find Nedava's suggestion, while not totally without merit, to be
somewhat tenuous. I have checked with Albert Glotzer, one of the
leaders of the Shachtmanite faction at the time and a Jew who has
become critical of Trotsky on many points. He denies any anti-Semitic
implications in the faction fight of those years. (9) It is probably
true, on the other hand, that the occupational distribution among the
Jews, even in the Trotskyist movement of those years, was relatively
less "proletarian" than that of non-Jews, and this was bound to have
unfavourable implications in this strictly Marxist sect.
Finally, the Jewish press in several countries has published
interviews which Trotsky had granted in 1937. Some of his statements
can be interpreted as tentative encouragement for Jewish territorial
aspirations, and some people have even interpreted his words as
implying support for Jewish claims to Palestine. What is certain is
that, although remaining a firm internationalist and anti-Zionist, he
never ceased to be concerned for the suffering of his fellow Jews.(10)
Jews and the pre-War Trotskyist movement
>From its beginnings in 1929 (11) until the coming of the Second World
War, the following were among the most conspicuous features of the
1. Trotskyism represented a radical leftism, which in the political
culture of the day involved the greatest possible enmity toward the
radical right, i.e. the Nazis.
2. Trotsky and his followers exposed and denounced the Stalinist
dictatorship, and they pointedly called it 'totalitarian' to show its
similarities to Hitlerism. (12) On this important issue they were very
isolated in left-wing circles in the 1930s and 1940s. At a time when
the crimes of Stalin were so generally denied in the West, the
Trotskyist movement showed much more realism and much more courage
than conventional liberal and left-wing politicians.
3. Trotskyist groups were very small everywhere, but the average
intellectual awareness of its members was probably much higher than
that of the competing Communist and Social Democratic mass parties.
This statement is of course impressionistic and difficult to prove; I
base it on personal recollection and on the published descriptions and
memoirs for the period.(13) (The impression one gets from the
Trotskyist movement today is quite different).
4. Using the same kind of imperfect evidence, it is my impression that
the membership and perhaps even more the leadership in these groups
was largely Jewish from their beginnings around 1930 until
approximately the middle 1960s. Furthermore, quite a few of the best
known older Jewish intellectuals in the United States, and to some
extent also in Britain and France, had some connection with the
Trotskyist movement in the 1930s and early 1940s.
No more than a very small minority of Jews ever were Trotskyists or
Trotskyist sympathizers, but those who were, in this early period,
were substantially in accord with the
general consensus of Jewish public opinion: anti-Fascism, a taste for
intellectualizing, distrust of Stalin. These Jewish Trotskyists were
far from being 'the average Jew,' whatever that might mean, but
neither were they radically at odds with their families or the social
milieu from which they had sprung. The moderate -- as it appears in
retrospect -- anti-Zionism of these Trotskyists would not have been an
insufferable irritant; at any rate, Jews had not yet accepted Zionism
as fervently or as quasi-universally as they did later.
One way of following the striking changes in Trotskyist positions on
Jews and Zionism is to read the writings over the years by Tony Cliff
(Ygael Gluckstein).(14) In the 1930s he wrote for American Trotskyist
journals as a member of then-illegal Trotskyist group in Palestine,
using the name L. Rock. (15) In 1946 he emigrated to Britain where he
eventually developed his distinctive view of the Soviet Union as
'state-capitalist'. Today he is the leader of the (British) Socialist
Workers Party, one of the more important Trotskyist groups worldwide.
Writing in 1938, Cliff, like other Trotskyists of the time, opposed
Zionism and the idea of a Jewish state, but he opposed with equal
vigour the 'anti-Jewish' nature of the 'Arab nationalist movement,' in
particular pointing to the Arab 'pogroms' of 1929.(16) Condemnations
of the 1929 murder of rabbinical students at Hebron and of the Nazi
connections of Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
in the 1930s, regularly accompanied Trotskyist denunciations of
Zionism in this period. As we shall see, Tony Cliff changed this line
Trotskyism and the War: The Main Enemy is at Home !
Until the Second World War, then, it can fairly be said that the
internal culture of the Trotskyists groups, even more than any of
their formal documents, assumed that Hitler and Stalin were the arch
enemies. Today the enemy is 'American imperialism' of which Zionism is
taken to be an appendage. This change in the movement's demonology had
as its concomitant not only a radically different relationship to
Jews, which I will describe presently, but also a precipitous drop in
the proportion of Jewish members. (17)
The change did not come all at once. Speaking in retrospect, it was
foreshadowed in the very harsh stance of the movement in opposition to
the Allies' war against Hitler.
The Communist movement of Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, and Liebknecht
had been founded in opposition to the 'social patriotism' of the
social democrats in the First World War, and Trotskyists had, using
the same terminology, always insisted that no side in a war among the
'capitalist' powers should ever be supported by the proletariat. But
on the other hand Trotsky had been particularly sensitive to the
dangers of Hitler, and had indeed shown signs of regarding the German
'fascists' as much more dangerous than ordinary capitalist
governments. (1 Trotsky had also called for a vote against
annexation to Hitler's Reich in the Saar plebiscite of 1935 while the
Moscow-oriented Communists, at the beginning of the campaign, still
considered such a vote to be a sell-out to 'French imperialism.' (19)
Just before the war, some Trotskyists in Palestine, apparently Jewish,
wrote to Trotsky to express concern over the traditional Bolshevist
strategy of 'revolutionary defeatism' according to which the main
enemy of the proletariat is always at home and revolutionary activity
is to be carried on in wartime even though that may cause the defeat
of one's own country. These Trotskyists assked whether the movement
could indeed regard the two sides in a coming war, in which Hitler's
Germany would no doubt be a participant, as equally reprehensible;
whether, in effect, the Fourth International should counsel the
working class of the Western countries to carry on activities against
their own governments even at the risk of helping Hitler win the war.
Trotsky's reply was extremely harsh and unequivocal: the old
Bolshevist slogans from World War I still holds. The 'capitalist'
governments of the West are as likely as not to turn fascist anyway.
'A victory over the armies of Hitler and Mussolini implies in itself
only the military defeat of Germany and Italy, and not at all the
collapse of fascism.' Furthermore, 'the more resolute, firm and
irreconcilable our position is on this question all the better will
the masses understand us ...' (20)
Once the war broke out, Trotsky wrote the solemn 'Manifesto of the
Fourth International on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World
Revolution' (May 1940) which failed to see much difference between
Western democracies and Hitler Germany:
"But isn't the working class obliged in the
present conditions to aid the democracies in their struggle against
German fascism ?" That is how the question in put by broad petty-
bourgeois circles .... We reject this policy with indignation.
Naturally there exists a difference between the political regimes in
bourgeois society just as there is a difference in comfort between
various cars in a railway train. But when the whole train is plunging
into an abyss, the distinction between decaying democracy and
murderous fascism disappears in the face of the collapse of the entire
capitalist system. (21)
Trotsky was killed that year and was never to learn that the Western
democracies did, contrary to his prediction, defeat fascism. In his
1939 reply to the Palestinian Trotskyists he had said that if the
'slightly senile' Allies were indeed capable of liquidating fascism,
'even if only for a limited period,' he would be wrong and those
supporting the war effort would be right. (22) We don't know what he
would now say, were he alive. All we know is that those who act in his
name -- the Trotskyists of today -- stand fast in proclaiming that his
pronouncements of 1939 and 1940 were absolutely correct.
But for the Jewish members and supporters of the old Trotskyism, it
may well be that the movement's position of 'defeatism' was the first
of several profound shocks that alienated them from the movement.
Certainly, as more and more of the details of the Holocaust became
known after the war, Trotsky's analogy to the 'difference in comfort
between various cars in a railway train' appeared less and less
Trotskyism after the 1967 War: Against Zionism and
In 1946, immediately after the Second World War, Tony Cliff wrote
another pamphlet. He was now writing under his new name and for the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain. He castigated all the
worldly powers of the Middle East: 'terroristic' Zionist
organizations, 'British imperialism' and other 'foreign capitalists,'
'big Arab landowners,' 'the Arab bourgeoisie in Palestine,' the
(Moscow-oriented) Communist Party of Palestine, etc. (23) If he
expressed particular venom for Zionism, he did not at all spare 'the
reactionary feudal leadership in the Arab national movement, and the
anti-Jewish terror.' Here he mentions, in particular, the Mufti of
Jerusalem and his Nazi connections. (24) In another publication of the
same year, Cliff is even more specific: 'Who is the Mufti ? ... He was
the organizer of attacks on Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929 and
1936-39...' (25)All this was vintage Trotskyism. The governments of
the world, all the political parties and movements, whether left,
right, or center, are thoroughly evil. Only the international
revolutionary proletariat, yet to be awakened from its slumber by a
yet-to-created mass Trotskyist party, can save the world from
otherwise certain barbarism.
Trotsky himself, when asked in 1932 about the 1929 Arab riots in
Hebron, had thought that they combined elements of an 'Arab national
liberation (anti-imperialistic) movement ... combined with elements of
Islamic reaction and anti-Jewish pogromism." (26)
Aside from Cliff's pamphlet and a very occasional article along the
same line in publications such as The New International and Fourth
International, international Trotskyism was in a sort of latency
period after the war as far as the Jewish question is concerned. In
this it did not differ markedly from the earlier periods of
Trotskyism; Jewish matters had not been very important to it. And
neither did the Trotskyist press pay very much attention to the new
state of Israel. Not very much, that is, until after 1967, subsequent
to which the topic became one of the major preoccupations of the
The Trotskyists were not alone in this new turn. Following the Israel
Arab war of 1967, the Soviet Union broke diplomatic relations with
Israel. Together with the pro-Moscow Communist parties and associated
movements around the world, the Soviets began a tremendous, newly
intensified propaganda campaign against Israel and Zionism. (27) One
of the major themes in this campaign was an alleged similarity,
identity even, between Zionism and Nazism. At the same time -- and
this became important for practical considerations -- Zionism was said
to be a tool or puppet of 'American imperialism.' The Soviet Union
found that a very hard line against Israel helped it enlist Arab and
other third-world leaders, and much of the New Left in the
industrialized countries as well, in its Cold War with the United
States. Certainly by the early 1970s opposition to Zionism had become
one of the axioms of correct left-wing, 'anti-imperialist' thinking.
There is a tradition in the Trotskyist movement, dating back to
Trotsky's "Left Opposition" to Stalin in the 1920s, of seeking to
outbid the official Communist Parties on the matter of leftism: we are
more leftist than thou ! After 1967 anti-Zionism became almost part of
the definition of being on the left, and, seen from this point of
view, it is not altogether surprising that the Trotskyists generally
developed a harsher and more uncompromising line on this question than
did the official Communists.
Both pro-Moscow and Trotskyist Communists have always insisted, then
as well as now, over and over in all pronouncements that deal even
remotely with our topic, that they are, have been, and always will be
staunch opponents of anti-Semitism. Their anti-Zionism, they never
tire to say, is not at all directed against the Jewish group, let
alone Jews as individuals. In fact, they say, it is Zionism that is
really anti-Semitic: Zionism, like Nazism, preached that Jews are a
foreign element in the countries of the diaspora; Zionists, like
Nazis, tried to have Jews leave Germany in the Nazi period; Zionism as
a political movement collaborated with the Nazis.
Critics of Soviet policies on Jews (besides disputing the factual
claims in such statements) have long maintained that Zionist' is
frequently used as a code word meaning 'Jew' in
Soviet propaganda and that Soviet 'anti-Zionism' in fact amounts to
opposition to the Jewish people. The question now is whether the anti-
Zionism of post-1967 Trotskyism similarly contains elements of anti-
Semitism. Different readers will wish to answer this question in
different ways. Moreover, the Trotskyist movement is badly divided
into many competing tendencies and so we shall have to pay attention
to at least some of the more important ones among these.
One of the first indicators of a new Trotskyist position came in yet
another work by Tony Cliff, 'The Struggle in the Middle East,' written
in 1967 immediately after the Israel-Arab war of that year. (2 Some
of the material in it follows, word for word, the text of 1948 that we
have considered at the beginning of this section. There is a
condemnation of Zionism, hardly more scathing than before. There is
the obligatory condemnation of 'imperialism,' and so forth. But some
of the material is quite new. When attacking Israel, it is no longer a
question of Israeli rulers or Jewish capitalists but rather of Israel
tout court. Asking the question 'can colons be revolutionary ?', Cliff
now castigates Jewish workers for a failure to 'join forces with the
Arab anti-imperialist struggle.' (29) This is a new note for a
Trotskyist writer; until that point accusations were always levelled
against capitalists, Jewish or not, and not against workers, Jewish or
The biggest change from his 1948 pamphlet is that in 1967 Cliff no
longer makes any reference to Arab violence against Jews, to the role
of the Grand Mufti during the Hitler period, or to any of the material
that Trotsky, Cliff himself, and other Trotskyist writers had always
used to balance their sharp criticism of Zionism. Cliff's suppression
of the name of Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti and friend of
Hitler, is something that he and other post-1967 Trotskyist writers
have in common with the bulk of the newer left-wing critics of Israel.
There is some irony in this rewriting of history. Trotsky himself had
been victimized by a similar bowdlerization of history when the
official chroniclers of the Soviet state sought to misrepresent his
role in the Russian revolution. Trotsky's exposé of the 'Stalin School
of Falsification' constitutes one of the most revealing texts on such
propagandistic revision of history. (30)
The 'Usurers' of Abram Leon
The document that most clearly marks the turning point in our story
was actually written a quarter of a century before the 1967 war --
between 1940 and 1942 -- in Nazi-occupied Belgium. The author of 'La
Conception Matérialiste de la Question Juive' was twenty-two when the
work was started, younger than the Marx of 'Zur Judenfrage.' He had
been a member of Hashomer Hatsair, the left-wing Zionist youth group,
but by the time he started this work he had abandoned Zionism to
become active in the illegal Belgian Trotskyist organization. By the
time he was twenty-six, in 1944, he was killed in Auschwitz by the
The book was first published by a Trotskyist group in Paris in 1946
and then in an English edition in Mexico in 1950. It seems to have
been forgotten as fast as it was published and was unavailable for
many years until it was resurrected by the Trotskyists after the 1967
war. In 1968 there was a French edition with a lengthy introductory
essay by Maxime Rodinson which, among other things, attacked Zionism
and Israel. In 1970 the English translation was republished by the
Trotskyist 'Pathfinder Press' with a new introduction by Nathan
Weinstock that included an even sharper attack on Zionism and Israel.
This English edition has gone through a number of reprintings and
appears in the current Pathfinder catalogue as of this writing (April
1990). It seems to be esteemed by most if not all of the current
factions in international Trotskyism.
Leon starts with a 'materialist' assumption that he shares with Marx
and other Marxists: it is not the Jewish religion, not a specific
Jewish culture, not Jewish sentiments of any sort that determine the
Jewish group but rather their social -- that is to say their economic
-- role. If anything Leon is more radical than others in this
determinism: 'We must not start with religion in order to explain
Jewish history; on the contrary, the preservation of the Jewish
religion or nationality can be explained only by the "real Jew," that
is to say, by the Jew in his economic and social role.' (32)
>From the very beginning of their history, according to Leon, Jews were
traders. Even in antiquity they were hated for this. Later they became
'usurers,' and here he quotes Marx: 'both usury and commerce exploit
the various modes of production. They do not create it, but attack it
from the outside.' (33)
Throughout, Leon develops the notion of a socio-economic selection for
membership in the Jewish group: Jewish individuals who choose not be
merchants or usurers convert to Christianity; Christians who take on
these occupations convert to Judaism. (34)
'Usury' is treated as the defining characteristic of the Jews
beginning with the middle ages. Leon is most insistent that Jews
entered this practice on their own volition and not at all as the
result of outside forces: 'It is self-evident that to claim, as do
most historians, that the Jews began to engage in lending only after
their elimination from trade, is a vulgar error.'(35) And again:
The example of Poland again proves how infantile are the customary
schema of Jewish historians who attempt to explain the commercial or
usurious function of the Jews on the basis of persecutions. Who then
had forbidden the Jews of Poland from becoming agriculturalists or
artisans ? Long before the first attempts of the Polish cities to
struggle against the Jews, all commerce and all banking in that
country already lay in their hands.(36)
Leon's views here are very different from Trotsky's. When the latter
found occasion to deal with Jewish occupational peculiarities -- the
Jewish 'middle men,' money lenders, etc., in Rumania -- he saw the
Jews as victims of circumstances rather than as the villains portrayed
by Leon. (37) Neither Trotsky, nor indeed Lenin, ever accused the
Jewish people of 'usury.'
Leon is also very insistent on what he considers to be the
'unproductive' nature of the Jew in the feudal period: 'The treasury
of the usurer, in the feudal era, fulfills the role of a necessary but
absolutely unproductive reserve .... The function of the banker is
altogether different. He contributes directly to the production of
surplus value. He is productive.' (3 And again he quotes from Marx:
'Usury centralizes money wealth, where the means of production are
disjointed. It does not alter the mode of production but attaches
itself to it as a parasite, and makes it miserable. It sucks its
blood, kills its nerve ... ' (39)
Leon treats anti-Semitism, at least in the pre-capitalist era, as the
natural result of Jewish behaviour through the ages:
Hatred for the Jews does not date solely from the birth of
Christianity. Seneca treated the Jews as a criminal race. Juvenal
believed that the Jews existed only to cause evil for other peoples.
Quintilian said that the Jews were a curse for other people. The cause
of ancient anti-Semitism is the same as for medieval anti-Semitism:
the antagonism toward the merchant in every society based principally
on the production of use values. (40)
And again: 'The transformation of all classes of society into
producers of exchange values, into owners of money, raises them
unanimously against Jewish usury whose archaic character emphasizes
its rapacity.' (41)
Only when he comes to contemporary society is Leon ambivalent about
anti-Semitism. On the one hand he castigates it as a device of the
capitalist class in its struggle against the proletariat. But he also
thinks that 'the historical past of Judaism exercises a determining
influence on its social composition.' (42) Since Jews today are no
longer dominantly usurers, anti-Semitism now is actually a myth, a
piece of 'false consciousness' that is deliberately fostered by
racists. Jewish usury is now no more than a 'vestige,' but this
vestige does give 'a certain appearance of reality to the myth.' (43)
Jews no longer play a distinctive social role now, Leon finds, and he
argues against 'petty-bourgeois ideologists [who] are always inclined
to raise a historical phenomenon into an eternal category.' The
disappearance of the Jewish people, he suggests, is a 'historical
necessity.'(44) The problem cannot be solved in a humane way under
capitalism. Zionism is no answer at all. The hope lies in the example
of the Soviet Union which has shown that 'the proletariat can solve
the Jewish problem' and where 'the "productivization" of the Jews has
been accompanied by two parallel processes: assimilation and
territorial concentration. Wherever the Jews penetrate into industry,
they are rapidly assimilated. As early as 1926 there werehardly 40
percent of the Jewish miners in the Donetz Basin who spoke Yiddish.
Nevertheless the Jews live under a regime of national autonomy; they
have special schools, a Yiddish press, autonomous courts.' Leon also
gives unqualified praise for the Biro-Bidzhan scheme, the Kremlin's
Siberian answer to Zionism. (45)
Here again, Leon's differences with Trotsky are striking. For the last
decade of his life, Trotsky missed no occasion for exposing and
denouncing the Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union. Trotsky approved of
the nationalized economy, for whose sake he continued to regard the
country as a 'workers' state' albeit a degenerated one, but he always
coupled such approval with a most scathing denunciation of the
political dictatorship. He took the same approach to the Biro-Bidzhan
Leon's book was written with verve, intelligence, and high
seriousness, qualities which we shall find lacking in the Trotskyist
writings on Jews a quarter of a century later. But there can be no
question of scholarly or historical accuracy, any more than there was
for Marx's 'Zur Judenfrage.' (47) Unlike Marx at the time of his
pamphlet, Leon had had no benefit of a university education when he
wrote this book. He had no control over the sources he cites, let
alone the primary materials. Instead he used the traditional method of
the autodidact pamphleteer: he scoured the secondary literature in
search of statements in accord with his thesis; whenever he found
something to his liking, he made careful citation of it in his book.
Any thesis at all can be proven by this method, at least to the
satisfaction of someone needing to grind a particular axe. Even Maxime
Rodinson, the anti-Zionist French writer who is responsible for the
new French edition of Leon's book in 1968 and who approves of its
political implications, finds Leon's scholarship unacceptable. (4
Leon was of course not the first to propose that the Jews should be
exclusively defined by their putative economic role and, this role now
being outdated, that they are bound to dissolve into the surrounding
population. This line of reasoning was taken up by Karl Kautsky, (49)
and more closely related to Leon in time, by the Austrian-born Jewish
Communist Otto Heller.(50) Heller was a member or supporter of the
Stalinist Communist Party of Germany, and was of course even more
enthusiastic than Leon about the Soviet solution to the Jewish
question. (Like Leon, Heller fell victim to the Nazis. (51) ) But
there is a great difference in the tone of these two writers. Where
Leon's is very moralistic in his condemnation of the Jews as
'usurers,' accusing them time and again of deliberately anti-social
acts, Heller finds that Jews were 'forced' into such roles. (52)
Except for Marx himself, I have found no Marxist writer, before the
late 1960s, to be as disparaging of the Jewish people as Leon.
Despite these flaws in the book -- the unacceptable scholarship, the
unprecedented anti-Jewish tone, the sharp deviations from Trotskyist
positions on the Soviet Union -- the Trotskyist movement decided to
resurrect it in 1968 and has ever after praised it as one of its most
authoritative publications. It is important to note, however, that
this praise is kept to overall evaluations of 'the authority on the
Jewish question.' (53) Today's Trotskyists do not make the explicit
allegation that 'usury' constitutes the historical heritage of the
Jewish people; nor do they explicity repeat Marx's accusation
of'dishonest trade practice', i.e. Schacher. (54)
The Jews of Israel: An Oppressor Nation
When the national convention of the Socialist Workers Party in the
United States adopted its resolution on 'Israel and the Arab
Revolution' in August of 1971, it was by far the largest Trotskyist
grouping in North America and was also perhaps the most influential
formation in the international Trotskyist movement. (55) No fewer than
1,100 delegates and visitors attended the convention. The resolution
is probably the most carefully written exposition of the new
Trotskyist thinking concerning Israel and Zionism. It solemnly and,
for the movement authoritatively, establishes the new doctrine that
the whole Jewish people of Israel -- not just the rulers or
capitalists of the country -- are oppressors and must be considered
The right of oppressed nationalities to self-determination is a
unilateral right. That is, it is the right of the presently oppressed
Palestinians to determine unilaterally whether or not they and the
Hebrew-speaking Jews will live in unitary state or in separate states.
The Israeli Jews, as the present oppressor nationality, do not have
that right. (56)
On the other hand,
... within this framework, the Hebrew-speaking Jews, a small minority
within the Arab East, are guaranteed all democratic rights of a
national minority, such as language, culture, religion, education,
etc. If appropriate, this can include the right to local self-
administration in Jewish areas, but not the unilateral right to form a
militia or other armed force; any form of local self-administration
must be subject to the approval of the central government of the
unitary workers state. (57)
A key task of the Arab revolution, and the central task of the
Palestinian struggle, is the destruction of the Israeli settler-
colonial, expansionist, capitalist state. To accomplish this task
requires, first of all, the revolutionary mobilization of the Arab
masses; and secondly, within Israel, winning the largest possible
support for the Arab revolution and neutralizing the opponents of the
Arab revolution. (5
Although 'the Jewish workers in Israel are economically and socially
privileged compared to the Arab workers, both within Israel and the
Arab East ... [and] have also been entrapped by their support to
Zionism,' (59) the party nevertheless urges revolutionary socialists
in Israel to win Jewish workers away from Zionism and from the
existing trade unions (Histadruth) and to enlist them for help in the
destruction of the Jewish state. 'This is the only perspective in the
interest of the Jewish masses as well.' (60)
Furthermore, 'our revolutionary socialist opposition to Zionism and
the Israeli state has nothing in common with anti-Semitism, as the pro-
Zionist propagandists maliciously and falsely assert.' (61)
This position is then developed as follows:
The situation of the Israeli Jews is essentially different from that
of Jews in other parts of the world. The struggle against anti-
Semitism and the oppression of Jews in other countries is a
progressive struggle directed against their oppressors...' (62) [But]
The Israeli Jews form an oppressor nationality of a settler-colonial
character vis-a-vis the Arab peoples. ... From the point of view of
the Leninist concept of the right of nations to self-determination,
the key fact is whether the given nationality is an oppressed
nationality or an oppressor nationality. ...(63)
There was a minority opinion in the party which went approximately as
follows: we agree that Israeli Jews constitute an oppressor nation and
have no right to self determination before the socialist revolution;
nevertheless we think that after the revolution these Jews might well
have a claim to a workers state of their own. (64) The majority
decided that there should be no support for a Jewish state, either
before or after the revolution. I have been informed that members of
the minority were close to the thinking of the (Mandelite) European-
based leadership of the international movement at the time, and their
point of view may well be that of the Mandel group now (see below).
The party issued a booklet of approximately 60,000 words to explain
the resolution and its reasoning. It ranged over the entire history of
Palestine and Israel. Nowhere is there mention of Arab violence
against Jews, nor of Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni.
The Trotskyist Groups Today: Variety in Consensus
It would not be possible to make reference to all the groups and
grouplets in the world today that lay claim to the mantle of
Trotskyism. What follows is an account of the larger Trotskyist
formations in Britain and the United States; they can be taken as a
fair sampling of what
worldwide Trotskyism currently thinks about Jews and Israel.The
positions taken by the (American) SWP in 1971 are universally
accepted, with only minor variations, by all the groups except one. As
we shall see, the largest of all groups, that lead by Ted Grant, is in
partial but significant dissent.
It is convenient now to use the names of the respective leaders for
labelling the various tendencies. Despite the fact that the philosophy
of Marxism should dictate otherwise, Trotskyists, like other
Communists, attach extraordinary importance to the personality of
their leading comrades. Once a person is recognized as the leader of a
given tendency, only death or excessively conspicuous dotage can
displace him. This is of course in sharp contrast to the practice in
most democratic socialist organizations.
All these Fourth Internationalist groups think of themselves as
'Marxist,' 'Leninist,' and 'Trotskyist,' these terms serving as
totemic emblems of the claimed descent from the great leaders. All
three labels were used even during Trotsky's lifetime. For lesser
leaders now alive, however, totemic naming is sometimes taken as
slightly disparaging. (66)Followers of James P. Cannon were called
'Cannonites' by followers of Max Shachtman, who in turn were known as
'Shachtmanites' to the former, and both of these terms bore slightly
pejorative connotations. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, it
is common in Trotskyist circles to refer to rival tendencies as
followers of a particular leader. One convenience in this practice
lies in the fact that the names of the groups themselves are often
confusingly similar (the Socialist Workers Party in the United States
is Barnesite while that of Britain is Cliffite, for example). The
international allegiances of the various tendencies are certainly more
conveniently traced through reference to the leading personalities. In
any case, a nomenclature based on discipleship is the norm among
writers on Trotskyism no less than among scholars of Hassidism.
The first and by far the most flamboyant of recent Trotskyist leaders
is the now deceased Gerry Healy, dead in London on December 14, 1989
at the age of 76. His organization -- the small remnant now is called
the Marxist Party, but in its heyday it was the Workers Revolutionary
Party -- became known for its very strident anti-Israel activities
mainly through the unceasing efforts of its most illustrious member,
actress Vanessa Redgrave.
Under Healy's autocratic leadership, the Workers Revolutionary Party
had for some years more influence in Britain than is usual for
Trotskyist organizations. There was a group of actors around Vanessa
Redgrave and her brother Corin, a daily newspaper News Line, a
publishing company with contracts from the Libyan government, ties to
Labour Party figures such as Ken Livingstone. (67) Such connections
brought Healy to the attention of the larger public, but so did, with
disasterous consequences, his personal and political extravagance. He
was finally alienated from the bulk of his own membership and became
subjected to extremely hostile criticism from all the other Trotskyist
These problems came to a head when it was revealed that during the
1970s and early 1980s Healy had received secret funds from Colonel
Gaddafi's Libya, other Arab governments, and from the Palestine
Liberation Organization. Some of the money from Libya, it was alleged,
was payment for spying on prominent British Jews. There were also
charges from party members that Healy had sexually exploited no fewer
than twenty-eight young women in his organization. (69) The Trotskyist
movement has never before, or after, known flamboyance of this sort.
The upshot is that the Workers Revolutionary Party splintered into
approximately eight competing successor groups after 1985, and
'Healyism' may now be considered as dead as its founder.
We have already seen how Tony Cliff changed his position since his
earliest writings in 1938 in line with the changing attitudes of
international Trotskyism. Cliff is now one of the most senior figures
in the movement. He is not only the leader of the (British) Socialist
Workers Party but also of an international network of groups that
accept his theory of 'state capitalism' in the Soviet Union. Next to
Ted Grant's Militant, Cliff's is the second largest Trotskyist group
The SWP's extremely harsh opposition to Israel is expressed in its
recent pamphlet by John Rose, 'Israel: The Hijack State. America's
Watchdog in the Middle East.' (70) The cover
of this work is dominated by a melodramatic cartoon depicting an Uncle
Sam who only barely restrains a ferocious, enormous attack dog. The
dog has huge sharp teeth, wide-open mouth, eyes bulging; he is
straining at the leash and ready to attack; his mouth alone is twice
the size of Uncle Sam's head. The dog of course is Israel, and the
cartoon is a faithful indicator of the tone of the whole pamphlet.
The pamphlet acknowledges the help of Tony Cliff in the preparation of
the pamphlet, and pays tribute to other 'Jewish anti-Zionist' writers
for having paved the way for the present work, among them Abram Leon,
Lenni Brenner, and Noam Chomsky. These authors form the basic sources
for most current Trotskyist writings on Jewish matters and are
frequently cited in them. (71)
Rose accepts allegations from Brenner, Chomsky, and others, that there
is a close similarity between Zionism and Nazism. (72)He also adopts a
version of Israeli history, in sharp contrast to Trotsky's views and
Cliff's earlier writings, according to which the Arabs were always
victims and the Jews always aggressors. (73) The Mufti Al-Hajj Amin al-
Husayni, who had been denounced by Cliff in his earlier writer for
having organized 'attacks on Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936 39,' is
now seen by Rose as having been insufficiently vigilant on behalf of
Arab demands. (74) A similar criticism is made of today's Palestine
Liberation Organization. (75)
Finally, Rose indicates his condemnation of the whole of the Israeli
Jewish population, not just the government and capitalists, by
speaking of a 'colon mentality amongst the mass of Israelis.' (76) He
also claims that an opinion survey found only one percent of Israelis
agreeable to a political settlement by withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.
This claim is based on a tendentious misreading of a single poll and
can actually be shown to be inaccurate by a large margin. Insofar as
Marxists identify with the popular will, they often tend to overstate
the extent of popular approval of their positions; by making the
opposite claim here, Rose emphasizes his condemnation of the whole
Jack Barnes has been the leader of the (American) Socialist Workers
Party since 1972. Since the early 1980s, under his leadership, the
party has undergone certain changes that have caused many of the old-
time Trotskyists to resign from membership or be expelled. The party
has been very severely criticized by other Trotskyist groups. (77) It
still looks to Trotsky for inspiration, publishes his writings, and
retains the general political orientation of Trotskyism; but on the
other hand it has also expressed great admiration for third-world
leaders and in particular for Fidel Castro. (As far as is publicly
known, this admiration has remained completely unrequited). These
views constitute a significant shift when compared to traditional
Attacks on Israel and Zionism receive more emphasis from Barnesite
than by the other groups. There are frequent articles in the party's
American paper The Militant, the party sells the anti-Israel
literature of others, and, above all, it has spent considerable
resources of its own to bring out two elaborate anti-Israel pamphlets
in recent years. (7 Leon's 'The Jewish Question,' among others, is
suggested for further reading in both of them.
The general line is familiar: the 1971 SWP resolution is re-affirmed;
the Arab struggle is to be supported 'unconditionally'; the Jews of
Israel have no right to self-determination; Jewish workers should
support the Arab struggle for the destruction of Israel; anti-Semitism
in the rest of the world is to be fought. There are certain emphases
distinctive to the Barnesites. While the other Trotskyists tend to
criticize Arafat for being too conciliatory, the Barnesites, in line
with their great admiration for third-world leaders, express
confidence in the PLO and see Arafat's recent willingness to recognize
Israel as a necessary temporary concession on the road to the desired
eventual destruction of Israel.
The Belgian scholar Ernest Mandel (sometimes writing as Ernest
Germain) is the leader of the United Secretariat of the Fourth
International. One of the three larger French Trotskyist groups
acknowledges his leadership as do smaller groups in Britain, the
United States, Israel (79), and other countries. Born in 1923, Mandel
was active in the Trotskyist underground in Belgium during the Second
World War where he met Abram Leon; he contributed the biographical
sketch of Leon to the latter's The Jewish Question. (80) Mandel is now
a well-known Marxist economist and is probably the only professional
scholar of international repute to have become a top leader in any
Trotskyist movement. (81)
Perhaps because of the scholarly achievements of its leader, the
group's materials on Israel are often more thoughtful and perhaps more
carefully written than those of its Trotskyist rivals. But they are
also a great deal harsher and more irreconcilable, if that is
possible, in their opposition to the Jewish state. Unlike the
Barnesite praise and approval of Arafat, for example, Mandelites do
not hesitate to criticize the PLO leader for being too conciliatory to
Israel: 'George Habash [head of the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine] was right when, addressing the leaders of the
Palestinian right who are hegemonic in the PLO, he asked them: "Is
this the time to make new concessions ?"' (82)
Not all Mandelite writings are designed to appeal to the thoughtful.
For instance, the American Mandelite affiliate Socialist Action has
issued a booklet by Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism.
(83) Schoenman had been assistant to Bertrand Russell and Secretary-
General of Russell's International War Crimes Tribunal. When Russell
finally broke with Schoenman, he complained about Schoenman's general
unreliability: '[he is] very often excessively and misleadingly
incorrect and his quotations must always be verified.'(84)
Schoenman's booklet is fairly shrill: The Zionists were in cahoots
with the Nazis; the Jews were always violent and sadistic in the
history of Palestine; the Arabs were always victims of these Jews and
of the imperialists generally. Schoenman reserves his harshest words
for those who support the right of Israel to exist alongside an
eventual Palestinian state: 'Even if the apartheid Israeli state were
anchored on a ship off Haifa, it would be an outrage.' (85) And again:
'this specious employment of the principle of self-determination
translates into a covert call for amnesty for Israel.' (86) The tone
is very vindictive against the Jewish state.
Like Rose, Schoenman depends heavily on Brenner and Chomsky as sources
in his footnotes. He also quotes various works by Israel Shahak, a
chemist in Israel who has attacked not only Zionism but also the
Talmud as the source of current Jewish malevolence. (87)
There is one tendency in contemporary Trotskyism that forms a
substantial exception to our general story: Grantism, also known as
the 'Militant tendency' in the British Labour party. Led by Ted Grant,
it is a disciplined Trotskyist organization within Labour. Since such
factions are technically forbidden by Labour rules, Militant sometimes
maintains the fiction that it is no more than a newspaper and does not
exist as an organized group. Actually it does much more than merely
exist: it is extremely well organized and probably has more influence
in Britain than any other Trotskyist organization has ever had in a
Western country. It may have as many as ten thousand members; it has
important influence in municipal councils such as Liverpool; two
Labour MP's are said to be Militant members. Finally, Grantism also
has small satellite grouplets in other countries. (8
Ted Grant emigrated to Britain from South Africa some fifty years ago
and has been active in the British Trotskyist movement ever since.
Together with Tony Cliff and Ernest Mandel, he is among the few
survivors of the pre-War Trotskyist movement who are still active in
the movement today.
Militant's attitudes on Israel are significantly different from those
of all other major Trotskyist groups. (89) The 'intifada' is to be
supported, it is, in fact, 'a marvellous vindication of the Marxist
view.' (90) However, the Arab governments are not be trusted at all
because they are dominated by capitalists. The PLO is opposed because
it conducts a national rather than the necessary class struggle. Its
actions, including the terrorism directed against Israel, naturally
repel Jewish workers. Jews as well as Arabs have legitimate security
A bridge can be built between Jewish and Arab workers by a movement
which fought under the banner of a Socialist Federation of the Middle
East. Such a movement would fight for democratic rights and a national
homeland for Palestinians, while directing class appeals to Jewish
workers and troops. It would defend the class interest of Israeli
workers, and support the right of the Israeli nation to its own self-
determination, within a socialist federation.... Marxists take as
their starting point the fact that the fortunes of Arab and Jewish
workers are inextricably bound together and the key task, therefore,
is to provide an alternative programme to all those dragging the
region into the swamp. (91)
Nowhere in Militant's writings is there talk of Israeli Jews as an
'oppressor nation.' By placing its own anti-Zionism into a strictly
class-struggle context, Militant has managed to retain attitudes that
were dominant in the older, pre-1967 Trotskyism.
The question of whether the Trotskyist movement is anti-Semitic arises
primarily if one thinks of anti-Semitism as an all-or-none phenomenon.
But a moment's reflection shows that, like Marx himself, a movement
may well show anti-Semitic aspects without thereby becoming totally
anti-Semitic in its nature.
All Trotskyist groups declare their staunch opposition to anti-
Semitism while being hostile to the Zionist enterprise. Most of the
groups wish the destruction of Israel and, toward that end, support
Israel's most irreconcilable enemies. In theory, most of the
Trotskyist groups regard the Jews of Israel as an 'oppressor nation,'
but this phrase does not occur very often in the Trotskyist
propaganda. Beyond these positions there is a certain ambiguity about
the image of the Jewish people. The groups promote and pay homage to
the work of Abram Leon. But Leon's specific accusation -- that 'usury'
constitutes the central phenomenon of Jewish history, in effect that
Jew means Shylock -- is neither explicitly endorsed nor ever
repudiated by today's Trotskyist writers.
It is not surprising now that the membership in the Trotskyist
movement is no longer overwhelmingly Jewish, as once it was in
countries like France, Britain, and the United States. The movement
does have some very bitter Jewish individuals, for instance the
authors of the pamphlets I have cited. But these men and women have
broken all meaningful association with the Jewish public. Trotskyism
did at one time have a modicum of such contact, but today it is
profoundly separated and deeply alienated from the great majority of
Jews in general and also from Jewish intellectuals in particular. In
this it differs significantly from the Communism of both Lenin and
>From the Jewish side, this alienation probably became inevitable once
the strident anti-Israelism of the movement was clear. Beyond that,
the Trotskyist refusal to endorse the Allies in the Second World War
is no doubt a continuing irritant, as was the complete lack of
interest of the movement in the fate of Soviet Jews in recent years.
As we have seen, there are various emphases within the overall
Trotskyist movement in its approach to Jews and to Israel; furthermore
not all sections of the movement treat the issue as very important.
Many of the rank-and-file Trotskyists I have met are very open not
only to Jewish individuals but also to discussions of the issues that
are involved; the atmosphere is rarely one of hatred. On the other
hand I have also encountered individual Trotskyists, often of Jewish
origins themselves, for whom rancour -- anti-Jewish rancour -- seems
to be the dominant theme. Such rancour, of course, is also found in
some of the publications I have cited.
Our consideration of the Jewish question in the contemporary
Trotskyist movement points, I believe, to certain inherent problems of
the larger Marxist tradition from which this
movement has sprung. As an ideology of class struggle, Marxism has,
since the days of its founders, had difficulties when faced with human
problems that simply will not dissolve themselves into a class
analysis. The relationship of the Marxist movements to the problem of
nations and nationalism has been marked by opportunism -- Marx and the
Marxists have taken sides in national disputes in accordance to what
seemed the most expedient at the moment to a particular Marxist
movement. This stance has been justified by Stalin:
The question of the rights of nations is not an isolated, self-
sufficient question; it is part of the general problem of the
proletarian revolution, subordinate to the whole, and must be
considered from the point of view of the whole.... the national
movement ... should be appraised not from the point of view of formal
democracy, but from the point of view of the actual results obtained,
as shown by the general balance sheet.... (93)
And it should be remembered that on this "national question" Stalin
spoke as an orthodox Bolshevist, his earlier work on this topic having
been praised not only by Lenin but also by Trotsky. (94)
I close with a more personal commentary. Much like the larger Marxist
movement, Trotskyism since the days of the Old Man himself has been a
peculiar mixture of opposing impulses. On the one hand, there are the
truth-loving, democratic, humane, generous efforts of many individuals
who have enlisted, often at considerable personal risk, for the cause
of a better and more just society. Such impulses should have led the
Trotskyists to take a more even-handed look at the Arab-Israel problem
than they have in fact managed. They should also have been able to see
through and dismiss the pathetic little anti-Semitic pamphlet by Abram
But like other Marxist movements, the Trotkyists have also been
capable of rancour, resentment, narrow sectarianism, always-knowing-
better. A variety of circumstances seem to have conspired to make
these latter qualities predominant in their approach to the Jewish
people during this last quarter century.
(1) The critical edition of Karl Marx's 'Zur Judenfrage' has
been published jointly by the Soviet and East German
(Socialist Unity) communist parties in Karl Marx Friedrich
Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), Erste Abteilung, Band 2, pp.
141-169 (text) and 648-667 (notes), Berlin, 1982. The
original edition of the essay is dated 1844.
(2) The question anti-Semitism in Marx and Marxism is treated
in Solomon F. Bloom, "Karl Marx and the Jews," in A Liberal
in Two Worlds, The Essays of Solomon F. Bloom, ed. by S. J.
Hurwitz and Moses Rischin (Washington: Public Affairs Press,
1968), pp. 93-104, essay originally published in 1942; Saul
K. Padover, Karl Marx (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978); Robert S.
Wistrich, Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky
(London: Harrap, 1976); Julius Carlebach, 'Judaism,' in A
Dictionary of Marxist Thought, edited by Tom Bottomore et
al., (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), pp.
244-246; Edmund Silberner, Kommunisten zur Judenfrage
(Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1983). One essay that seeks
to exculpate Marx from charges of anti-Semitism is by
Wolfgang Fritz Haug, 'Antisemitismus in marxistischer
Sicht,' in Antisemitismus, ed. by Herbert A. Strauss and
Norbert Kampe, (Bonn: Bundeszentrale f. politische Bildung,
1985), pp. 234-255. But see his footnote no. 22, p. 239,
which finds some of Marx's expressions 'for us today,
unbearable.' A similar position is taken by Horace B.
Davis, Nationalism & Socialism (New York: Monthly Review
Press, 1967), pp. 71-73. Concerning other ethnic prejudices
of Marx and Engels, see Walker Connor, The National Question
in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 15, ff.
(3) The literature on the Trotskyist movement is vast, but
unfortunately much of it is severely marred by extreme
partisanship. On Trotsky and his thought, the best book is
probably that of Baruch Knei-Paz, The Social and Political
Thought of Leon Trotsky (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1978). The most complete and up-to-date biography of
Trotsky is by a scholar who is also a staunch Trotskyist:
Pierre Broué, Trotsky (Paris: Fayard, 1988). The most
satisfactory overall treatments of the Trotskyist movement,
though dealing mostly with Britain, are the two books by
John Callaghan: British Trotskyism. Theory and Practice
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984), and The Far Left in British
Politics (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987). See also the very
important book by Robert J. Alexander, Trotskyism in Latin
America (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1973).
(4) The relationship between Trotsky and the Jews is very
authoritatively treated in Knei-Paz, op. cit., pp. 533 to
555. Unless I cite other sources, the information of my
section here is documented in Knei-Paz's chapter. There is
also a book-length treatment which adds valuable details:
Joseph Nedava, Trotsky and the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish
Publication Soc. of America, 1971). Silberner, op. cit.,
and Wistrich, op. cit., also have chapters on this topic.
Finally, there is the new book by Albert Glotzer, Trotsky.
Memoir and Critique (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1989), who
devotes a chapter to Trotsky and the Jews and contributes
valuable personal memories.
(5) Silberner, op. cit., p. 64; Nedava, op. cit., p. 69; Zvi
Y. Gitelman, op. cit., p. 44.
(6) Leon Trotsky, 'Thermidor and Anti-Semitism,' The New
International, vol. VII, no. 5 (May 1941), pp. 91-94
(written in February, 1937).
(7) See Nedava, op. cit., pp. 130-132
( Ibid., p. 131.
(9) Telephone interview with Albert Glotzer, April 17, 1990.
Glotzer also paid tribute to James P. Cannon, a man with
whom he has fought bitterly within the Trotskyist movement,
as being totally incapable of utilizing anti-Semitism, no
matter how subtle.
(10) Knei-Paz, op. cit., 548-555; Nedava, op. cit., pp. 206-
(11) For a summary review of the Trotskyist movement, from the point
of view of one of its French founders, see Pierre
Frank, The Fourth International: The Long March of the
Trotskyists (London: Ink Links, 1979), original French
edition Paris 1969.
(12) The most important of Trotsky's works on the Stalinist
dictatorship is The Revolution Betrayed (New York: Pioneer,
1945); first edition 1937. On 'totalitarianism,' see p. 279.
(13) This literature for the American movement is by now quite
large. While there is again no proof, it seems likely that
the situation was very similar in France and Britain. I
have consulted the following, among others: Irving Howe, A
Margin of Hope (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1982); Alan M.
Wald, The New York Intellectuals (Chapel Hill, NC:
University of North Carolina Press, 1987); Paul Jacobs, Is
Curly Jewish ? (New York: Vintage, 1973); John P. Diggins,
Up from Communism (New York: Harper, 1975); William L.
O'Neill, A Better World (New York: Simon and Schuster,
1982); William Barrett, The Truants (Garden City:
Doubleday, 1983); Sidney Lens, Unrepentant Radical (Boston:
(14) On Cliff, see Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson, The War
and the International. A History of the Trotskyist Movement
in Britain 1937 - 1949 (London: Socialist Platform, 1986),
p. 183 and passim.
(15) Personal correspondence from Tony Cliff to author, August
(16) L. Rock, 'Roots of the Jewish-Arab Conflict,' New
International, November 1938, reprinted in Hal Draper, ed.,
Zionism, Israel, & the Arabs (Berkeley: Independent
Socialist Clippingbooks, n.d. [1967 ?]), pp. 34-38.
(17) The evidence for this is impressionistic. Within the
last two years I have consulted both members and observers
of the movement in the United States, Britain, and France,
and found unanimity in this estimate.
(1 Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast (London: Oxford
University Press, 1963), pp. 131-151 and passim.; Pierre
Broué, op. cit., pp. 713-743.
(19) Gerhard Paul, 'Deutsche Mutter -- heim zu Dir !' (Köln:
Bund-Verlag, 1984), p. 267 and passim., Patrick von zur
Mühlen, 'Schlagt Hitler and der Saar' (Bonn: Neue
Gesellschaft, 1979), p. 146 and passim., Leon Trotsky,
Writings of Leon Trotsky [1933-34], Second Edition (New
York: Pathfinder, 1975), p. 135
(20) Leon Trotsky, 'A Step towards Social-Patriotism,' New
International, vol. VI, no. 7 (July 1939), pp. 207-210.
(21) Leon Trotsky, 'Manifesto of the Fourth International on
the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World Revolution,'
Writings of Leon Trotsky [1939-1940], Second Edition (New
York: Pathfinder, 1973), p. 221.
(22) Leon Trotsky, 'A Step Toward..,' p. 209
(23) T. Cliff, Middle East and the Cross Roads (London:
Revolutionary Communist Party, 1946).
(24) Ibid., p. 22
(25) T. Cliff, 'A New British Provocation in Palestine,'
Fourth International, September 1946, pp. 282-284
(26) Nedava, op. cit., p. 202.
(27) For one account among many, see Walter Laqueur, The
Struggle for the Middle East (London: Pelican Books, 1972),
(2 Tony Cliff, The Struggle in the Middle East (London:
Socialist Review: 1967)
(29) ibid., p. 2
(30) Leon Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification (New
York: Pathfinder Press, 1971), original edition 1937.
(31) I take biographical details concerning Leon and
bibliographic information concerning his book from the
following: Maxime Rodinson, Cult, Ghetto, and State
(London: Al Saqi Books, 1983), pp. 68-69 (this is an English
translation of Rodinson's 1968 introduction to the French
edition); and from the following editions of the book:
Abraham [sic] Léon, La Conception Matérialiste de la
Question Juive (Paris: EDI, 1968); Abram Leon, The Jewish
Question. A Marxist Interpretation (New York: Pathfinder,
(32) The Jewish Question, p. 66. All references to Leon's work are to
the New York edition.
(33) ibid., p. 77
(34) ibid., pp. 121, 139, 140, 141, 243-44.
(35) ibid., p. 137
(36) ibid., p. 138, note 12
(37) Knei-Paz, op. cit., pp. 543, f.
(3 Leon, op. cit., p. 143, emphasis in original.
(39) ibid., p. 150, emphasis in original.
(40) ibid., p. 71
(41) ibid., p. 152.
(42) ibid., p. 236
(43) ibid., pp. 236-237.
(44) ibid., p. 259
(45) ibid., pp. 263-264.
(46) Knei-Paz, op. cit., p. 550-551
(47) For a recent scholarly t