Comment on this article |
Email this article |
News :: Globalization
reader: Why your revolution is no liberation
by MAD Cologne
Email: post (nospam) mad-koeln.de
02 Nov 2007
The "Why your revolution is no liberation" reader, published by several german and austrian antifascist groups to criticise a wrong analysis of capitalism widely spread in the anti-globalisation movement is for free download now. Read the introduction on antisemitism and antizionism of the anti-globalisation movement here
Download the reader for free: http://www.no-liberation-reader.tk/
Why your revolution is no liberation!
With this reader, we want to take a stand against the currently predominating analyses, of the anti-globalisation movement, which, articulating themselves as in the broadest sense left-wing and anticapitalist, constantly boisterously trumpet their opinion, that another world was possible. We have serious doubts that this „other“ world, was going to be of a better constitution than the current one. This anti-globalisation movement is of course not at all marginalised, but is enjoying broad sympathy, which reaches from the „bourgeois left“ right to the so-called centre of society and which is even shared by Neo-Nazis
The anti-globalisation movement is-as its protagonists certainly emphasise when facing criticism-a heterogenous movement, in which many groups and individuals have agreed to a minimum consensus. In the case of the activities against this year’s G8-summit this consensus will consist of the participating heads of government being evil, whereas demonstrators and activists on the other side of the fence are „good“. Within the last couple of years, another consensus has-explicitly and implicitly-been agreed on: An antagonism toward the USA and Israel, as well as a structurally anti-Semitic criticism of capitalism.
The closing statement of the world social forum of Porto Alegre expressed the forum`s solidarity with the „Palestinian people“ - not a word about suicide bombings or islamic anti- Semitism. The European Social Forum in Paris willingly offered a platform to the islamist and anti-semite Tariq Ramadan, whilst activists, that criticised the anti-Semitism of the No-Globals in a Flyer, were attacked and expelled from the forum. At an event during the EU-Summit in Copenhagen the Danish group „Global Roots“ demanded a boycott of Israel stewards wore shirts with the slogan „Burn Israel Burn“ on them. During an ATTAC meeting in Germany the Italian globalisation critic Alfonso de Vito compared Israels policy toward the Palestinians with the eviction of the Warsaw Ghetto. Noam Chomsky who can’ t detect anti-Semitism in Robert Faurrissons statement that the holocaust was a Zionist lie authored a manifesto in summer 2006 which declares Israel guilty of the Hisbollahs attack on Israels North because it was aiming to liquidate the Palestinian state. This silly writ which not only ignores the fact that there is no Palestinian state but also turns a blind eye to Israels withdrawal from the Gaza strip and the subsequent terror offensive of the Palestinians was promptly signed by other idols of the anti-globalisation movement: Naomi Klein, Jose Sarango, Arundhati Roy (amongst others).The latter was recently only notable by a completely amiss analysis of capitalism in which globalisation - equated with imperialism - is understood as a conspiracy of „men in suits“(Americans of course), who „trek the world like locusts“. Not forgetting the messias and head-of-state of the No-Globals, Hugo Chavez, close ally of the Iranian mullah regime which is currently sedously working on the nuclear destruction of Israel and which flaunts its president as the international figurehead of an extermination-anti-Semitism.
Why the hatred for Israel and the Jews? After every attack on a synagogue or another Jewish institution Israels allegedly disproportional military policy is at least considered as the reason for the attack. No assault on a mosque or an African immigrant in Europe has ever been justified with a reference to the policy of Muslim or African states. Why the personalisation of the circumstances of capital? It should be known since Marx that capitalism is not an event staged by handful of „men in suits“ but a total social condition. With this cognizance this reader wants to contribute to the formulation of a radical criticism.
Hostility towards Jews has a long tradition. It originally mainly expressed itself in a religiously motivated rejection of the Jewish belief initially by polytheistic religions in ancient Rome, later also by monotheistic Christianity and Islam which entered into a competition of superstition with Judaism (which had been their own origin). However, the following will not mainly be about anti-judaism, religiously motivated hostility toward Jews in all its forms. We rather focus on the question why anti-Semitism came to life again with the advent of modernity in the middle of the 19th century, despite the loss of importance of religion that accompanied this era and why it could terrifyingly culminate in the extinction of the Jews by the Nazis. At the same time, current forms of antiSemitism, particularly in relation with criticism of and resistance against dominance shall be looked at.
Anti-Semitism and social tensions
The hatred toward Jews at the beginning of modernity stands purely externally by its reference to the same object of resentment in the tradition of religious anti-Semitism and can partially avail itself with traditional prejudices and adscriptions. Internally however, modern anti-Semitism executes a break with the religiously and historico-culturally motivated hatred by converting pogroms and mass-murder into a means of articulation for social tensions which do not directly correlate with the respective society’s relation with the Jews. The pogroms are now detached from supposedly concrete events which in the middle ages, and the early modern ages served as the occasion for anti-judaistic pogroms and evictions from entire areas and dominions (Jews were then seen as the causers of the black plague and were made responsible for alleged infanticides and well-poisoning.). Modern anti-Semitism survives with Jews but better still without them. Adorno and Horkheimer named this projective character as early as 1947:
„When the masses accept the reactionary ticket which contains the item against the Jews they obey social mechanisms in which experiences with Jews don’t play a part“.
The conflict of which anti-Semitism arose is of course a real one. The internal discord and resistance that finds its expression in anti-Semitic prejudices is the result of external perception. It is decisive however, that the experienced discord by which hatred for Jews is being fed is a completely different one and is independent of its object of reference. Anti-Semitism is the accomplishment of a shift which replaces a discordantly experienced reality with a compensatory reality and supposedly resolves the discord by doing so.
Besides that Jews are in the context of pseudo-scientific studies in the outgoing 19th century increasingly being defined as a racial-biological group that, apart from the character traits ascribed to them, would also differentiate itself from the rest of the population by physical features. Parallel to this development the concept of race is being introduced into the domestic political organisation of nations which are being increasingly racially charged. Because of their supposed biological difference alone Jews now constitute a foreign body and are, by being an imaginary counter-race, essential for the constitution of the self-depiction of those „Volkskörper“.
Basics: exchange-and practical value, abstract and concrete work
The organisation and constant extension of the merchandise trade since the outgoing middle ages led to a fundamental upheaval for producers. Peasants and the majority of craftsmen were being robbed of their self-sufficient economy by the extension of money-and market oriented processes. At the same time they were relieved of the direct compulsory duties payable to the feudal landlord and of his direct personal rule and were being integrated into the market happenings. A specialisation aimed at yield enhancement began which meant that people didn’t have to purchase or barter self-produced goods on the markets anymore. At this point the historical path of the reduction of own production starts which ends with only the abstract commodity of one’s own manpower being left -the emergence of the working class. The major advantages of the division of labour and specialisation, however, the enhancement of productivity and of the quality of production as the foundation of for a life liberated of needs the producers are deprived of. An enhanced productivity is not being translated into shorter working hours but leads, according to the laws of capitalist commodity production, to a deprecition in value of the commodities. In so far as this even results in a gain in value for the producers at all this gain is certainly not in any way proportional to the extent of the added value.
The rules and logic of the market economy see the exchange value, an abstract characteristic, that is constantly subject to fluctuations and changes take its place besides the practical value of the items carried to the market. As soon as items are being not manufactured for use but primarily for exchange their practical benefit becomes secondary for the producer. It is now mainly of interest, how many other items he can get for the one he made. The quid pro quo relation is decisive items become commodities, become goods meant for barter. With the development of capitalism commodities become the typical face of wealth.
If commodities have the twin-character of possessing practical-and exchange value this also holds true for the labour needed to manufacture it. Now, labour does not only produce a concrete item but generates a value. As all commodities are in a equivalent relation to each other each commodity-producing labour enters into such a relationship too. Besides the commodity labour produces a value abstract of the concrete shape of the work. By this, labour receives a twin-character too: it is concrete (producing the commodity) and abstract (generating the value).
Whether craft enterprise or international corporation…
This twin character of labour and commodity, immanent to capitalism, is not laid bare though. It exists independent of people’s awareness. With the addition of money the abstract side of the commodity and with it that of labour rather seems to be disposed of. The commodity, and with it the labour are being reduced to their practical value and their concrete character respectively. Money is depicted as the sole location of value as a manifestation of the abstract. Societies conditions and social relations are necessarily already predetermined in labour and commodity and are so being disguised: Commodities appear as purely objective, concrete articles of daily use whereas the form of value and with it the societal conditions, seem to manifest itself in the abstracted form of money. The contrarity of the abstract and the concrete which determines the alienated societal relations of capitalism is supposedly resolved the two opposites dependent of each other, are being disassociated.
The abstract side of capitalistic socialization perceived as concrete in the form of money is often seen as the essence of capitalism as such and thereby becomes the target of the revolt against conditions experienced as insufferable. Money and with it value is repeatedly being seen as the reason for exploitation and economic distress while commodities as natural objects of utility, seem to exist independently of that. The Nazis in particular preached of an antagonism of natural „creating“ capital and „money grubbing“ capital rejected as being artificial and disintegrating which disguises the opposition of value developing a momentum of its own in money and concrete work as well as the necessary correlation of value-and commodity forms. At the same time it is proposed to eliminate the grievances immanent to capitalism by eliminating one side of the coin only. Moreover, this suspension of the connection between the form of value and the form of commodity of concrete and abstract work clears the way for a personalisation of the criticism of capitalism. It is now possible to solely hold those companies and branches of the economy responsible for actually experienced hardship that administer financial capital: Banks and the stock exchange become the main targets of criticism if needed a major internationally acting corporation will do. It is certain however, that the craft enterprise has got nothing to do with all the misery.
Only at a first glance though, are there major differences between a local craft enterprise, Deutsche Bank and Daimler Chrysler. They all follow the same principle - capitalistic value addition - and can merely be distinguished between because of their economic success and the influence resulting from it. A criticism of capitalism limited to big players bypasses the totality of societal relations and disguises these by presenting a concrete scapegoat that can also serve as the object of violence for the anti-capitalist revolt. The character of capitalism as an abstract and total condition of society is being concealed behind this false ascertainment and is being revoked of a fundamental radical criticism.
The antiSemitism,of the anticapitalist revolt
Moreover, the personalisation of the capitalist socialization creates the structure of modern anti-Semitism. Value, money and trade as abstract homeless and exploitative forms are being ascribed to particular persons: Bankers, Fat Cats and capitalists. The step then to the personalisation of anti-Semitism, to the Jew, which most globalisation critics have not taken yet, is only a small one. This association is, however, based on prejudices passed on since the middle ages of the Jew being a homeless huckster, extortioner and exploiter so perfectly obvious that it doesn’t need to be expressed openly. Yet, the Nazis did and justified the murdering of six million people in an industrially organised system with the fight against the „money grubbing“ Jewish capital. From the standpoint of a misguided criticism of capitalism which limits itself to the abstract side of capitalist creation of value and to banks, capitalists, major corporations-and in this way of thinking to the Jew-as its face this was only consequent.
The anticapitalist revolt against the separated, abstract side of capitalist creation of value is thereby structurally anti-semitic. The pogrom is already arranged for. As depressing as it may be anticapitalist criticism always has to target the entire structure and must always consider the totality of societal relations. In those, capitalists are nothing but a another form of workers, neither better nor worse. The existence of classes and the relations of dominance immanent to them shall of course not be negated but we all contribute to the continuity of the system. Everybody is independent of his or her income and the economic circumstances he or she is living under simply a small cog in the wheel. There is no escape: Not by shopping at the local cooperative instead of at H&M, not by eating in the local soup-kitchen instead of at McDonald’s.
It’s about Israel
Since the 6-day war ,a new version of anti-Semitism has developed and taken hold in the European left which originates in the criticism of Israel. It is the main feature of this ideology that it tries to depict its anti-Semitism as anti-racism by attacking Israel as a supposedly racist state. In this anti-israeli, anti-Zionist anti-Semitism, islamism, neo-fascist, democratic and „globalisation-critical“ anti-semites find a common ground. The pretended antiracist legitimation under the camouflage of anti-zionism also allows for the integration of anti-Semitism into even left-wing and universalist ideologies after the Shoah, by misusing an urgently necessary anti-racism which should not pretend to be culture-relativistic.
Zionism describes the Jewish national movement that developed in the last decades of the 19th century. Theodor Herzl’s pamphlet „Der Judenstaat“ in 1896 and the first Zionist congress in Basel in 1897 were essential to this movement. The goal of the Zionists was the foundation of a Jewish national state in reaction to the continuing hostility towards Jews that did not recede with the creation of the bourgois national states and the promise of equality that had been associated with it. The hope of the Jews of emancipation and of an end to resentment and persecution faded away during this time. Insofar, Zionism was a consequent reaction to anti-Semitism which grew to a Jewish mass movement during the rise of the persecution of the Jews in Germany in the 1930s,and in 1948 eventually resulted in the founding of Israel. The creation of a Jewish state in which Jews would be most possibly safe from anti-Semitism and in which they’d have the possibility to defend themselves militarily against it was a necessary consequence of the persecution of the Jews which found an atrocious climax in the industrial mass murder of six-million Jews by the Germans. Furthermore, the foundation of the nation state of Israel was also the only feasible consequence in a world that was not willing to up-root the causes of anti-Semitism once and for all. It must be noted that the extermination of the European Jews had of course not taken place as part of the murderous war-and occupation policy of the Nazis but was an end in itself in an ideology of which hatred was the main motor. The existence of the Jewish state is the basis for each form of emancipatory policy that seeks to overcome the conditions that made Ausschwitz possible and that seeks to create circumstances under which man is a friend of man. In a world organised in nation states only the existence of Israel can guarantee the survival of Jews. This holds true even if one otherwise rejects the construct of the nation for good reasons. In other words: You can’t have anti-fascist policy without solidarity with Israel.
Not least because of this the mere plan of a Jewish state was attacked by various anti-semites. Jews could only live as a „third party“ quasi as parasites within, and of other nations. They wouln’t be able to build their own nation state as they weren’t capable of forming a community rather they embodied a society characterised by self interest, money, power, exploitation and internationalism that wasn’t viable on its own. These stereotypes with which the possibility and justification of Israels existence are being negated nowadays live on in the references repeated as in a prayer mill, to the inner struggle of Israel and the Israelis: This was the case for example when an inner-Israeli civil war was evoked before the vacation of the settlements in the Gaza-strip. Wishful thinking which was debunked as such by the actual course of the withdrawal as Israel since 2005 is not at all shaken by inner tensions but is unabatedly being attacked by the supposedly victorious anti-semites in the neighbouring countries in particular the Hisbollah acting from Lebanon and financed by Syria and Iran.
In front of the background of the supposed incapability of Jews to build a state Israel could never be comprehended as a normal nation state by anti-semites of any shade. Its name is put in quotation marks, is written of as a „so called state“ and is preferably being depicted as an imperialistic bulwark. This allegation is being extended by the claim that a Jewish state is really only an international power base. The Zionists are claimed to be among the American monopolists and to serve American imperialism. This conjunction between Israel (or Jews) with the United States as a chiffre for an allegedly particularly brutal modernisation and the epitome of capitalism clarifies the closeness between anti-Semitism and anti-americanism.
Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism
A fundamental feature of the anti-Zionist anti-Semitism which has the weakening and ultimately the extinction of the Jewish state as its goal is furthermore, the replacement of the „Jew“ by the „Zionist“ which is being equated with the „imperialist“ or „racist“. By this, one can contentwise tie on the anti-semitic tradition of the equation of Jews with capitalism, yet, can employ a vocabulary that is tradeable apart from Nazi and Islamic coherences as well. A particularly audacious example for this was given by the periodical of the USSR’s embassy in Paris in 1972 that re-published excerpts from an article of 1906 whilst simply exchanging the words „Jew“ and „Zionist“. This sort of disguise was particularly necessary after the Shoah in order to shield oneself from the admonition of anti-Semitism and to politically establish anti-zionism on the left. Against the background of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis each anti-semite had the problem to justify his attitude. As an open denial of the holocaust is out of question by people on the left-although this denial is recently not confronted anymore when expressed by Islamists-a reversal of perpetrator and victim is carried out in which it is alleged that Jews want to exploit the holocaust. The Charta of Hamas employs the same tactic by formulating in Art.22 that Jews had instigated World War II in order to prepare the founding of their own state. Ayatollah Chamenei pretended in 2001 that documents exist which prove a close collaboration of Zionists and Nazis in order to arouse sympathy for Israel with the use of wrong numbers about the holocaust.
The western left also repeatedly employs symbols and vocabulary that are clearly connected to Nazism and the holocaust for the defamation of Israel. Countless flyers swagger of Israels „extermination war“ against the Palestinians, the respective Israeli Prime Minister is being furnished with a Hitler-moustache, star of David and swastika are being put into one, numerous other equations of Jews and Nazis are being carried out.
These contentwise absurd comparisons are accompanied by an almost pathological fixation of the left with Israel. No conflict on earth receives the same kind of attention as Israels conflicts with Palestinians and its neighbouring states. Murdering islamic militias in Sudan, suicide bombers in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq, religious fanatics in India, pogroms against religious dissenters in Indonesia - none of that arouses any attention among the left. If Israel however, as in the summer of 2006,invades Southern Lebanon after being attacked by the Hisbollah and puts up a fight with the clerical-fascist mercenary troops of Iran for 4 weeks demonstrations and rallies are being organised at once, old flyers are being revamped in order to position the wider public against the self-defence of Jews. Similar fervour is aroused by the erection of a fence between Israel and the West Bank the purpose of which is to inhibit terrorists from reaching their destinations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and elsewhere. The organic metaphor of the „barrier cutting deep into Palestinian territory“ being used in this context, repeatedly expresses the biologistic-reactionary hallucinations of a „Volkskörper“(The body of people) and the land as its its „lebensraum“of its authors.
Poor=good, rich =evil
The overwhelming sympathy with Palestinians and the Arabs living around Israel can also be put down to a misunderstood Marxism which accords unconditional solidarity to the poor and enshrines him as a revolutionary subject. The rich on the other hand are always the exploiters which must be fought. Starting from this point the distribution of goods between Israel and the Palestinians or Arabs only the fight against the Jews can appear justified. In the course of this contradictions and class differences in the Arabic societies are ignored but especially is a progressive disposition of the materially underprivileged being hallucinated about. Each ever so barbaric assault is being legitimated with the reference to poor living conditions violated pride and anger about the „occupying power“ whereas the under-lying ideology of a longing for death self-abandonment and a people’s community, the major aim of which is the extermination of Jews, is not being questioned. The orientation along the „poor=good, rich=evil formula manipulates the view on reality and makes a criticism of the Islamic impossible. A policy always has to be measured by its means and goals, however. If suicide bombings are the means and the extermination of Israel and with it of another six million Jews or even only the creation of a Jew-free Zone in Gaza and the West Bank are the goals, this policy is running contrary to any societal emancipation.
The apologies of suicide bombings and Islamic murder gangs as acts and actors of resistance are also explained by the powerlessness of the western left. In the face of their own irrelevance and their own incapability to change anything, many have allowed themselves to be dumbed down the power of their opposition and their own impotence. Into each idiot to take up a gun the romanticised idea of a guerrilla fight against „the rulers“ is projected. Determination and defiance of death impress so much that motives and content don’t matter anymore „national liberation“ becomes self-serving. In the face of dozens of ethnicities and other folkloristic groups constantly discovering themselves, however, even the obsession with militancy of the left can not adequately explain the fixation on Israel. One can only conclude that only the concentration of anti-semites on the object of their desire can explain the immense criticism that each of Israel’s actions arouses.
A left wing policy deserving its name must - besides the ability to be critical of its own mistakes - also be prepared to confront reactionary liberation movements. After the Shoah as the most excessive rupture of civilisation in history, as the antipode of each emancipatory movement, taking the sides of Israel’s enemies completely ruled out for anti-fascist reasons.
„Israel is the state whose entire function is the defence of Jewish life. If Jews were to lose this
Defence they‘d again be subject to the moods of anti-semites and other proletarians of all countries. If one desires to attack the power of states one has two-hundred of them to choose from worldwide. A left which of its own strength is incapable of almost anything should at least refrain from everything that could infringe on Israel’s fight for its existence. (Gremzlia, konkret 5/02).
When worst comes to worst
In the very spot where a selective criticism of capitalism the ideal of a (clerical-fascist) „Volksgemeinschaft“ and an obsession with militancy blend into one currently stands Islamism. Its partial proximity to Nazism becomes apparent with the offensive denial of the holocaust and the invitation of internationally known neo-Nazis to a conference in Teheran at the latest. A denial restores the possibility of the holocaust as its non-existence meant that the consequences of the Shoah did’t have to be drawn.
This affinity is not new, however, the mufti of Jerusalem was a close ally of Hitler in the fight against Jews. Consequently, the reasons for this alliance are not only of strategical but also of a contentual nature: In their origin both Islamism and Nazism refer to a organic society imagined to be organic and free of contradictions (the „Volksgemeinschaft“ in one case, the Umma in the other one) which is mainly being threatened by exterior influences. The greatest such influence is the individualistic and hedonistic („western“) way of life being vilified as „decadent“ that misleads the individual into indulgence and enjoyment of life and which undermines his effort for and his submission under the collective (the agents of which are the Jews). The primacy of community, an obsession with work and asceticism all contradict the emancipatory, individual self-fullfillment and the Marxist goal of welfare and development for everybody. Nonetheless, the Islamic International enjoys the support and sympathy of many groups considering themselves as left-wing. Those groups in turn see many of their projections and wishes being realised by the various terror-gangs be they Hamas, Hisbollah or Al-Kaida. „Negligibilities“ as the disfranchisement and submission of women, the hatred for homosexuals and not least the fanatic anti-Semitism are being awarely ignored in the process. There must not be a place for such groups in a progressive movement, however. They must be fought as vigorously as the other ally of Islamism: European neo-Nazis.
The anti-globalisation movement and the Islamic movement are of course not to be equated. There are however, definitely ideological points of contact which unfortunately are not exhausted with appreciative references to alleged insults of Islamic culture after each Islamic outburst of violence by the west. The ideological similarities with Islamic terror are rather increasingly being discovered and propagated by parts of the western left. With the „10Euros for Iraqi resistance“ campaign of European anti-imperialists this intellectual closeness has already developed into a stalwart cooperation.
These efforts - as well as the idolising reference to other anti-semitic murder-squads - encounters alarmingly little resistance within the movement. In order not to endanger the capabilities of mobilisation in advance of big events as the G8 summit that only possesses the omnipotence ascribed to it in its false analysis critical voices mostly fall silent quickly.
As long as a misguided and wrong analysis of capitalism and with it of its criticism prevails the anti-globalisation movement can not be considered as a step in the right direction toward the realisation of an „association of free people“ but has to be seen as a reformist mostly state- and policy fixated movement to which a potential of reactionary barbarity is inherent which could erupt at any instance. To take the overthrow of the existing conditions seriously means to accept the totality of capitalism instead of mainly focusing on the circulation sphere and on pillowing big business. This brochure wants to advance this urgently necessary step.
We wish you fruitful reading.
Table of content
Moishe Postone History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism
Moishe Postone Anti-Semitism and National Socialism
Max Horkheimer & Theodor W. Adorno Elements of Anti-Semitism: Limits of Enlightment
Stephan Grigat Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism within the Left
Jean Amery The respectable Anti-Semitism
This work licensed under a
Creative Commons license