Thursday, March 05, 2009

Red Rosa versus Red-Pink Nadine

The first half of this post from Snoopy is on a Belgian "communist" who criticises "the European Left" for its conservatism on the question of Islamism. Nadine Rosa-Rosso, writing for the Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives, held from January 16 to 18, 2009, says:
The vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression, but refuses to support its political expressions such as Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Left not only refuses to support them, but also denounces them and fights against them.
I'd like to think that Nadine is right about that, that it is only a handful of deranged faux "anti-imperialists" who support Islamist politics, given that Islamism goes against the core principles of the historical left - social justice, human emancipation, democracy. Indeed, when I make sweeping generalisations about "the left" as pro-Hamas, I am gently reminded by comrades like Dave that it is only a marginal segment of the left who follow that line.

However, Snoopy follows on from Nadine's article to the call she has initiated for the EU to remove Hamas from its list of proscribed terrorist outfits. Such a call is, I think, wrong, but not insane. However, it goes on to demand "that they acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and, by so doing, recognise, Hamas as a legitimate voice for the Palestinian people's aspirations for national liberation." Rosa Luxembourg would be turning in her grave to see what "communism" has descended to.

Rather belying Nadine's claim that "the Left" refuses to support Hamas, the signatories include a range of important leftists. There's Augusto Boal, someone I greatly admire; there's various Green MPs and Senators, as well as usual suspects like Jose Saramago, Tariq Ali and the disgusting antisemite James Petras. The UK signatories include Gilad Atzmon (of course), the IT manager of Pluto Press, famously "moderate" Tariq Ramadan, famously immoderate John Hutnyk and a number of other academics, "mad hatter" Mark Barrett, etc.

What's wrong with the demand? As Transpontine said in a recent comment here,
Can we develop a kind of solidarity with civilians who happen to be Palestian (rather than 'the Palestinian People') that recognises and opposes their suffering at the hands of war machines without all the baggage of making them into a unique case?
To repeat something I've said before, those who talk most of The People are those who care least for real people, including real Palestinians. Or, as Rosa Luxemburg said,
the famous 'right of self-determination of nations' is nothing but hollow, bourgeois phraseology and humbug... [When it has been achieved,] it was really not the "people" who engaged in these reactionary policies, but only the bourgeois and petit bourgeois classes, who - in sharpest opposition to their own proletarian masses - perverted the 'national right of self-determination' into an instrument of their counter-revolutionary class policies. But - and here we come to the very heart of the question - it is in this that the utopian, petit bourgeois character of this nationalistic slogan resides: that in the midst of the crude realities of class society, especially when class antagonisms are sharpened to the uttermost, it is simply converted into a means of bourgeois class rule.
One of the few things worse than nationalism, in my view, is what Maurice Brinton of Solidarity called "vicarious" nationalism: the easy, exoticised celebration of the nationalisms of distant national elites, however reactionary, in lieu of the harder work of genuine solidarity with the common folk of those places.


Previous: "Israel must lose".

9 comments:

Dave Semple said...

Interesting as ever Bob. I am actually working on something linked to this right now, which is a revisiting of the Norman Yoke beliefs and the need for an uncontaminated discourse of class struggle.

N. Friedman said...

It seems to me that the interpretation of the Arab Israeli dispute in terms of traditional class struggle or anything of the sort has no apparent connection with the events.

A better interpretation of the dispute is one that sees growing demands in the region for the dominance of Islamist politics. Anything that stands in the way of that politics is attacked. So, Jews and Christians find their lives made miserable by demands to fold under what the Hamas covenant calls the "wing of Islam."

The results thus far of that demand have been felt primarily by that general region's Christians, who have been fleeing the region in remarkable numbers. The demand for domination by the region's Muslims is simply not a freedom fight. It is, instead, a fight to suppress all non-Muslim politics in the region.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Thanks for the link, Bob. There are two points I want to make:

Re your question mark on that "capo" expletive of mine: I rarely use terms like this, and this time I've used it in full consciousness. I have checked the matter with myself and with all I know about the critter - and yes, I still stand behind it. If any living Jew deserves it, it's Ronnie.

The second point: "The vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression". I know that its' P-R Nadine who sez it. However, I do feel that she is not exaggerating here. Unfortunately.

As for the insufficient left's support for Hamas - I think she does exaggerate at this point. While I don't have statistics at hand (and don't know how to get such), my gut feeling is that it is not only Islamists who are running around with "We are all Hamas(Hezbollah)" placards.

And, since we both agree on our unwillingness to disturb Rosa Luxemburg in her sleep, I would leave it at that for now.

Best.

bob said...

Thanks Snoop. Re capo, I'll reply on your blog.

Re exaggeration:
"The vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression".
This is absolutely true. But the question is, of course, loaded. Who is not against "aggression"? Even I, who defends Israel, cannot defend it when it is aggressive? And how can one not feel sorry for "the people of Gaza", who suffer under the double burden of Israeli blockade and Hamas dictatorship?

Unfortunately, on the pro-Hamas question, there isn't really a way of knowing. I think if you surveyed marchers at the January demonstrations about Gaza, and said "Do you support Hamas?", I think the majority of the white leftists would say "no". In Britain, of the main parties of the far left, only the SWP is pro-Hamas (and even they hedge their bets). So, I hope she is right, but I don't feel confident...

bob said...

Oh, and N. Friedman, I'm not sure. I broadly agree, but I think that the Israel-Palestine conflict is too multidimensional to say THE real issue is x or y.

But those who claim to take class as their starting point (i.e. people who say they're Marxists) have to work very hard to come out supporting Islamism, but somehow they manage it. Wonder why?

ross said...

because they don't take class as their starting point

TNC said...

At this point I think the majority of the organized radical left sees Islamist organizations like Hamas as representative of the forces of "resistance" against the forces of "empire." If this seems overly simplistic, it is. But that does not mean it is not the way most of the radical left organizations (and leaders) view reality.

Actions speak louder than words. When you go out and march in the streets in support of Hezbollah, Hamas, or other Islamist groups and march against Israel it is pretty clear where you stand in the struggle. And make no mistake about it, most radical leftists are anti-Zionists who want to "end the occupation" which, in their minds, means eliminating Israel.

Take a look around at the radical left today. Intelligent and thoughtful lefties like Bob are the minority.

rob said...

Hi Bob,
I just stumbled upon Nadine's article on OpenDemocracy.Net. I replied to it there if you want to take a look.
cheers,
rob

Bob said...

Thanks Rob- good response. I can't believe openDem actually reproduced her garbage.