Workers Vanguard No. 945
23 October 2009
LRP State Department Socialists Embrace New Bedfellow
From the Big Bang to Hot Air
(Young Spartacus pages)
On August 18 the vicarious Third World nationalists in the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) sponsored a forum by a former member of our organization, Israeli pseudo-Marxist Yossi Schwartz, under the title “All Israel Is Occupied Territory! The Crisis of Zionism and the Prospects for Revolution in the Middle East: For a Palestinian Workers’ State from the River to the Sea! For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!” We went to investigate these self-styled socialists’ new lash-up, the latest in a long series for both parties.
The LRP’s previous international affiliates include a Ukrainian section made up of con men who posed as members of (according to the LRP) “at least ten far left organizations internationally, and probably far more”—including the Bolshevik Tendency (BT), the Internationalist Group and the Committee for a Workers’ International, represented in the U.S. by Socialist Alternative. When the fraud came out, the LRP had to admit that their Ukrainian section “has in fact never existed as a genuine organization. Its ‘members’ and ‘leaders,’ some of whom we had met more than once, were part of the overall scam” (“LRP/COFI Statement on the Ukrainian ‘RWO’,” undated). As we noted, all these organizations had been “more than happy to perpetrate their con on the left public by trumpeting their fraudulent Ukrainian sections” for as long as they could (“Chickens Come Home to Roost in Kiev,” WV No. 808, 29 August 2003).
Today, as the Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine), Yossi Schwartz is arguing the LRP’s line on everything from the Palestinian question to “statified capitalism.” (“Statified capitalism” is the LRP’s contribution to the state capitalist “theory” used by renegades from Marxism to justify siding with the U.S. imperialists against the former Soviet Union.) But Schwartz has been known to argue for almost anything, including mental telepathy. As a comrade from the Spartacus Youth Club pointed out at the forum, “Yossi is known for changing his political positions and his groups about as often as he changes his socks. Where he will be next is anybody’s guess—probably even for Yossi himself. Too bad telepathy can’t tell him that.”
The SYC comrade explained, “As he left our organization 15 years ago, Yossi was denouncing us as ‘Stalinophobic’ for refusing to support the ex-Stalinist, anti-Semitic and fascist-infested ‘red-brown coalition’ in the [former] Soviet Union as some form of defender against capitalist counterrevolution. After quitting, he then joined a number of groups that cheerled the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, and turned around and denounced us as being Stalinophilic.” In response, Schwartz heatedly denied ever having called for an “orientation” to the “red-brown coalition.” But this was one of the positions that formed the basis of his faction in our organization, together with retrospectively saluting Khomeini’s mullahs as the “ally” of the workers in Iran in 1979 and bizarrely opposing the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe (see “The Rad Shift,” Spartacist Canada No. 102, March/April 1995). Yossi’s course was fully documented by our Canadian comrades in two Internal Discussion Bulletins that contain some 400 pages of factional debate (“Debates with the Leninist-Trotskyist Faction” Nos. 12 and 13, May and June 1994), available upon request.
Schwartz Drives Self into Sea?
More recently, Schwartz had hooked up with the late Ted Grant’s International Marxist Tendency (Socialist Appeal is their affiliate in the U.S.). At the forum, Schwartz explained that he and a cothinker split because the Grantites refused to “militarily” support Islamic fundamentalist Hamas against petty-bourgeois nationalist Fatah during Hamas’s 2007 takeover of Gaza, internecine bloodletting in which Marxists had no side. A comrade from the Spartacist League responded:
“You said it took the Grantites to tell you that you couldn’t support Hamas ‘militarily’ for you to figure out that they were opportunist. That blew me away. Decades in the [British] Labour Party didn’t do it for you. Support to Hugo Chávez didn’t do it for you. Them bragging that they stood on the barricades of Boris Yeltsin in 1991 didn’t do it for you, which I think, actually, speaks a lot to where you’re coming from.”
As does the slogan “all Israel is occupied territory.”
For Schwartz and the LRP—people who hate the existing workers states (Cuba, China, North Korea and Vietnam)—calling for a Palestinian “workers state” and a socialist federation of the Middle East is just a way to dress up Palestinian nationalism. Their answer to the conflicting national claims of the Palestinian and Hebrew-speaking peoples is to reverse the terms of oppression, for a single Palestinian “workers” state where the Hebrew-speaking nation would be denied the democratic right to national self-determination. The SYC speaker at their forum pointed out, “It’s not the class line, but ‘good and progressive’ peoples against ‘bad, reactionary’ ones that determines their line.”
In his presentation, Schwartz had thundered that Marx, Lenin and Trotsky stood for self-determination only for oppressed nations, not oppressor nations. Actually, Lenin’s aim wasn’t to pit nation against nation but to take the national question off the agenda in order to bring the class question to the fore. The SYC speaker at the forum exposed this shameless fabrication:
“Lenin was for the rights of all nations—and if you don’t believe me, here’s Lenin. This is from ‘The Right of Nations to Self-Determination’: ‘However, we cannot move towards that goal [uniting the workers of all nations] unless we combat all nationalism and uphold the equality of the various nations’.”
The LRP responded to our arguments with an outrageous smear, insisting that it was not possible to be for the national rights of both peoples, so we must be in favor of “apartheid or ethnic cleansing” for one or the other. For an organization that claims the Hebrew-speaking nation doesn’t have the right to exist, this takes some chutzpah!
As Marxists, we defend the Palestinian people against the brutal Zionist occupation, which has reduced one of the most cosmopolitan populations in the region to dire poverty and desperation. But the Palestinian and Hebrew-speaking peoples are geographically interpenetrated—both lay claim to the same sliver of land so that, under capitalism, the exercise of national self-determination by one can come only at the expense of the other. The equitable resolution of not only the Palestinian national question, but all of the myriad, conflicting national claims in the region requires the revolutionary overturn of the Zionist state and the existing Arab states in the region, and the establishment of a socialist federation of the Near East.
What is desperately needed is a class axis of struggle, not pandering to Arab nationalism, which, like all nationalism, is based on the false unity of the downtrodden and exploited with their “own” exploiters and would-be exploiters. As the SYC comrade proceeded to explain, “The only way to smash the Zionist citadel is from the inside out. And that requires Hebrew-Arab workers struggle within Israel itself.”
Anti-Communism Abroad, Class Collaboration at Home
In the United States, a country founded on the bedrock of black oppression, the LRP’s “horse race of peoples” led them into the arms of the racist American ruling class. As a comrade from the Labor Black League for Social Defense noted at the August 18 forum, during the Boston busing crisis in the mid 1970s:
“these ‘separate but equal’ socialists solidarized with white racists in opposition to busing. The LRP claimed that integration ‘means the subordination of blacks to the dominant whites’ [Torch, December 1974]. The LRP stands in opposition to integration and their opposition to busing was a capitulation to both the racists and the black nationalists who despaired of the possibility of integrated struggle uniting black and white workers.”
When this rotten position was exposed at the forum the assembled LRPers could do nothing but grumble and cynically ask why we didn’t also bring up the picture of the Confederate flag they ran in their paper. Our comrades obliged, holding up the photo from the Winter 1976-77 issue of Socialist Voice, which did not have a word of protest against the banner of the Southern slavocracy, but objected only to it being flown below the U.S. flag!
The speaker from the Labor Black League also quoted the LRP’s article, “Obama and Racist America.” That article poses the question, “Could a Black President Be Bad for Blacks?” and then answers, “It will no doubt be accepted as obvious by most people that the election of Barack Obama as this country’s first Black President would mark an historic victory against racism. In one sense, it would” (Proletarian Revolution, Spring 2008). The comrade from the Labor Black League responded, “The election of Obama will do nothing, nothing to change the nature of black oppression in racist, capitalist America.”
At the forum, Schwartz openly embraced the LRP’s virulent anti-Sovietism, denouncing our defense of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s against the CIA-funded, imperialist-backed mujahedin. These must have been welcome words to the smarmy Bolshevik Tendency and their recent “split,” Samuel Trachtenberg’s one-man “Revolutionary Regroupment,” who lauded the presentation while politely suggesting that the Hebrew-speaking people might have the right to exist. The LBL speaker had their number, noting the BT “departed our organization in the ’80s because they couldn’t stand our unflinching military defense of the USSR during Reagan’s Cold War.”
As the representative of the Spartacist League stated:
“Yes, we said ‘Hail the Red Army in Afghanistan!’ We proudly stand on that tradition. That was the only force that was bringing social progress to the Afghan peoples. It meant defense of the southern flank of the Soviet Union against imperialist provocation. And those who opposed that stood on the side of the imperialists. Don’t get up here and lecture about the side of the imperialists and the side of the oppressed states. Those who opposed the Soviet intervention stood on the side of the imperialists.”
That’s where the LRP and Schwartz found one another. We can only conclude, they deserve each other—but who knows if this marriage of convenience will last.
In “LRP State Department Socialists Embrace New Bedfellow” (WV No. 945, 23 October), we wrongly wrote that Socialist Appeal is the U.S. affiliate of Ted Grant’s International Marxist Tendency. The organization’s name is the Workers International League. Socialist Appeal is the name of their publication. (From WV No. 947, 20 November 2009.)