Middle East

Which Road for the Revolutionary Workers of Israel

By Yossi Schwartz

The following letter appeared in Marxmail, an Internet-based Marxist discuss list where people representing more or less different viewpoints within the general framework of Marxist theory discuss various current and historical political questions. The author defends a point of view that happens to be close, but not identical to that held by the Editors of Socialist Viewpoint.

In any event we publish it for the information of our readers because the clearest possible understanding of the often closely entangled questions of nationalism versus internationalism are, or should be, recognized as indispensable to the political solution of the problems facing the exploited and oppressed masses in every corner of the capitalist world; even if only because the chief strategic weapon of all exploiters and oppressors is divide and conquer.

—The Editors

I noticed the debate regarding whether there is in Israel a Trotskyist organization that supports the right of the Palestinians to rise up against the Zionist state. As you noticed yourself we (known now after we were expelled from the IMT [International Marxist Tendency] as the Internationalist Socialist League) unconditionally support the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist state. As a matter of fact we hold the position that all Israel is a stolen land and that the solution is a Palestinian workers state where the Jews who live now in Israel will have equal democratic rights including cultural autonomy as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East.

We were expelled from the IMT because we took the position of military support for Hamas, during the military clash between the Palestinian Authority led by Abu Mazen—backed by Israel and the U.S. in an attempt to topple Hamas elected government in Gaza last summer.

We will be more than happy to provide the documents in the form of letters between U.S. and the laborites leadership of the IMT before we were expelled, following the meeting in Barcelona last Summer when we had an open sharp political debate on this question and a few others like their popular-front politics in Pakistan.

We differentiate a military block that we support with Hamas against Israeli-U.S. imperialism and its agents and political support for Hamas which we do not give because we struggle for a working class revolution led by the revolutionary consciousness of workers formed into a revolutionary party. In our opinion Hamas can not lead to the resolution of the national oppression of the Palestinian and like the Mufti of Jerusalem and the High committee in the uprising of 1936-1939 out of fear of losing control of the masses will openly betray the struggle. There are signs for it already.

In our opinion political support for Hamas rather than concrete actions like demonstrations and a military bloc with Hamas is a reflection of the old Mensheviks and later on Stalinists’s “theory” of two-stage revolution that leads to the defeat of the working class revolutionary struggle. This was like in China 1925-7, and the reason of the defeat of the Palestinian uprising in 1936-9 when the Stalinist party gave political support to the reactionary leadership of the Mufti of Jerusalem.

Considering the class nature of Israel as a society of settler colonialists we do not think that the internal class contradictions within the Israeli society can be developed into a revolutionary struggle of the Jewish working class and the real revolutionary working class whose practice can lead to a revolutionary consciousness is the Arab working class where the Palestinian workers leading the other oppressed peasants and poor will play a most important role.

In our practical activities we participate in the Palestinians’ struggles trying to reach the most advanced Palestinian workers. The latest one was the demonstration in ruined Saforia to remember the Nakba [the mass expulsion of Palestinians 60 years ago] and we call among other things for the struggle for the democratic right of the refugees to return, which in our opinion is part of the agrarian revolution. We connect this struggle to the working class revolution based on our understanding of the theory of Permanent Revolution.

Our position on the revolutionary struggle in what is now Israel and the 1967 occupation is the same position of Trotsky on South Africa. (Leon Trotsky: “The Agrarian and National Questions: Remarks on the Draft Theses of The Workers Party of South Africa (February 1935).

At the moment among other things we are working on the philosophical outlook of Ted Grant and [Alan] Woods.

Since we are most familiar with the political practice of the IMT’s [website, In Defense of Marxism]it is easier for us to understand the class contents of Ted Grant and Alan Woods consciousness as expressed in their two philosophical books: Reason in Revolt and The History of Philosophy. I will make these few points on them.

They studied Hegel’s writings and not only are not dialectical materialists but they made mistakes that Hegel would not make. For example they tried in their book, Reason in Revolt claiming to understand natural science better than the scientists, to use the classic example of water transformation from liquid to vapor to ice by mechanical means, like heat to demonstrate the dialectical law of quantity changes to a new quality.

For them it is a question of water changing to a different substance rather than water in different states. However in reality of nature these are changes only in form. In the three states of water it remains water. To change water into a different content a different process is required—Electrolysis of water resulting in the decomposition of water (H2O) into oxygen (O1) and hydrogen gas (H2) due to an electric current being passed through the water.

This electrolytic process is used in some industrial applications when hydrogen is needed. An electrical power source is connected to two electrodes, or two plates, (typically made from some inert metal such as platinum or stainless steel) which are placed in the water. Hydrogen will appear at the cathode (the negatively charged electrode, where electrons are pumped into the water), and oxygen will appear at the anode (the positively charged electrode). The generated amount of hydrogen is twice the amount of oxygen, and both are proportional to the total electrical charge that was sent through the water.

This process is a real proof for the dialectical law they wanted to prove but fail. The reason they failed is that they tried to impose a scheme on reality rather than deducing from the actual process. They used the same method in their “analysis” of the former USSR and in their approach to Venezuela or to Israel. They do not study history from the point of view of the consciousness of workers but impose their petty-bourgeois scheme on nature and human history. This is a form of religion not a scientific approach.

In their book the History Of Philosophy, they praise the Greek Atomists and in contrast to Marx they prefer the Atomists over Epicurus. The real reason is that the Atomists had a very similar view to the empiricism of David Hume the agnostic, rather than a materialist. This is a reflection of their class position in opposition to the revolutionary practice of the only consistent subjective element in capitalist [society]—the conscious working class organized in a revolutionary party.

For a similar reason they like Spinoza whose deism is not only religion but a form of religion that leads [toward seeing] the working class as gray matter who need the guiding hand of the great personality to keep them in place. In Reason in Revolt they have funny statements like: There are two kinds of matter one we can call positive the other one negative (p. 65). And all individuals must die, but the wonder of the material universe with all its forms is that it is eternal and cannot be destroyed. Life comes and passes and again comes and passes; so it was and so it will always be (p. 225). This is a statement of religion. Earth and life on it has not always existed—it came into being.

At a certain point of dialectical motion, non-organic forms of matter became organic. Nor can we say that the Earth always will exist. Similarly Woods’s concept of the role of great individuals in history, individuals whose social consciousness is of other classes than the working class like Hugo Chavez is one of the clearest manifestation of the petty bourgeois seeking for the representative of God on Earth where Woods can talk to him like Moses on the mountain of Sinai to get some of the holy radiation passed to him (see In Defense of Marxism, December 9 2005). [It] will allow him to write the ten commandments in the form of books that claim to be Marxist but are no more than religious dogmas. I will be happy if you post this reply in

Communist revolutionary Greetings

Yossi Schwartz, for the International Socialist League.