de position -
Today’s terrorist acts by Hamas, like yesterday’s acts by Fatah or other Palestinian guerrilla organisations, will not bring an end to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
The future of the Palestinian proletariat, as well as of proletarians throughout the Middle East, Europe and the world, lies in independent class struggle and proletarian class solidarity of all countries!
The Palestinian bourgeoisie, today divided into two main factions – Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) – moves along three main lines: 1) to maintain the closest possible relations with the various and conflicting regional and international powers that have a vested interest in supporting them; 2) to resist economic, political, social and military oppression, especially by Israel, but also by the other Arab states in the region; and 3) to keep in subjugation the Palestinian proletariat, over which the two main factions exercise their limited power both to gain the appropriate level of exploitation that guarantees them the privileges that stem from that power, and to use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the regional and international powers with which they maintain relations.
The Palestinian proletariat, used for decades as a striking force in favour of the various factions into which the Palestinian bourgeoisie has been divided and the various bourgeoisies of the other Arab states, has always been destined to be at the same time a highly exploited labour force by each bourgeoisie, under whose domination it has had the misfortune to find itself or to seek refuge, and cannon fodder both in the confrontations through which it has sought to defend itself against every attack – whether in Palestine or in the “refugee camps” in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria – and in the conflicts of Israel with the countries in which it has found refuge.
Palestine: a proletariat and a people condemned to be massacred. Israel: a state born out of the oppression of the Palestinian people and a Jewish proletariat as prisoner of the immediate benefits of that oppression and accomplice of it.
An oppression that would not have had such strength and would not have lasted so long if it had not been supported, sponsored and fostered by the Western imperialist powers, which have made of Israel a bastion in the Middle East according to their own vision and manner, exploiting, as hegemon, its close relations with the American and European Jewish communities in order to continue to advance imperialist interests despite the specific and “national” interests of the Israeli bourgeoisie.
An oppression that the Western democratic powers have to pass off as a “necessity for the survival” of the Jewish people, in whose extermination by the Nazi-fascists in the past they were complicit, and to which today, in the form of the State of Israel – this gendarme of Western imperialist interests – they are paying a historical debt as well for the benefit of the “national” bourgeoisie, allowing it to exploit the Palestinian proletarian masses at very low cost and to repress by violent methods, considered the most effective, any attempt at struggle, even if only in the field of economic and immediate defence.
An oppression whose impact and duration is also due to the general passivity of the European and American proletarians, who for decades have been resigned to the classist struggle and imbued, as they have been for generations, with illusions of democracy and collaboration between the classes.
However remote the class struggle of the proletariat in the Western countries may seem, it is the only way in which the proletarian class of the imperialist countries of the West and East, which support the Israeli and Palestinian bourgeoisie, can redeem itself by finally engaging in a relentless struggle against the real class enemies: the imperialists, the greatest forces of oppression of every nation, of every nationality.
The Palestinian proletariat will never succeed in ridding itself of its own bourgeoisie on its own, let alone the Israeli bourgeoisie. It has found itself in this situation several times since 1948, when the state of Israel imposed itself by force and continued to occupy the Palestinian territories by force. The struggles that the various armed Palestinian bourgeois formations have been waging since the 1960s were already then being born under the influence of a nationalism sold out to foreign powers; a nationalism which received support and instructions from those powers and which had nothing in common with the character and drive for “national-revolutionary” independence which characterised the struggles against national oppression in Algeria, the Congo and later in Angola and Mozambique, and which for a long time determined the characteristics of the spontaneous revolt of the Palestinian proletariat. In the plans of the victorious imperialists of the Second World War, especially Great Britain, the Soviet Union and later the USA, the whole region of the Middle East – brimming with oil and strategic lines of communication such as the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf – inevitably assumed vital importance for world capitalism. The Arab population living in this vast area, if it had the strength to rebel against the British and French, as it did against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, could have caused serious trouble for the interests of British and French imperialism and, prospectively, for Russian and American imperialism, which, of course, had no intention of staying out of the region.
”It was imperialism,” we wrote in 1958, “by discovering and exploiting the oil fields of Arabia and by involving the Arab states born out of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in a vast network of mercantile relations, especially with oil, that created the “powder keg” which today [1958, ed.] here and there explodes. Imperialism, by promising independence to the Arabs in order to have them as allies against the Turks or the Germans, and a homeland in Palestine to the Jews in order to secure the support of big capital and the poor but proliferating Jewish minorities in the Western countries, created the conditions for the tension which convulses the Middle East, and which is all the more serious because meanwhile the Arab states have grown stronger economically and Israel has become a great centre of high-powered industry and agriculture” (1).
Well, that tension, which has long convulsed the Middle East, has never abated; on the contrary, it has become even more accentuated. What the imperialists feared at the time was the possibility of the Arab peoples fighting and achieving pan-Arab unification and a supranational state, which existed in the visions of Syria and Egypt; but that unification did not come about due to many historical and specific factors, including the traditional rivalry between the tribes and the sheikhs, which intensified over time and did not diminish precisely as a result of the discovery of oil, the intervention of competing imperialist powers, their knowledge of the deserts, and the exploitation of the dispossessed and proletarianised masses not only from the vast region of the Middle East but also from Central Asia and the Far East.
The struggle for the self-determination of the Palestinian people may have been part of the great cycle of anti-colonial struggles that began after the end of the Second World Imperialist War, especially in the second half of the 1960s; the gigantic class potential represented by the Palestinian proletariat and the proletarianised masses, while manifested in their indomitable and armed struggle in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, did not express an autonomous, class political programme that could guide the national movement. This revolutionary, class political programme did not exist and did not operate in the form of the proletarian and communist International, which had by then been destroyed and buried for forty years. On the other hand, the “leftist” political forces that constituted the “Palestinian resistance” and which claimed to be “Marxist” were, moreover, still so riddled with opportunism of Stalinist provenance that they could not but express the deviant political programs and directives that increasingly entangled the Palestinian “liberation movement” in the reactionary games of the Arab oligarchies and imperialist countries. Not only did the great desire for the unification of the Arab countries from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea quickly fade away, but also the illusion of the liberation of the Palestinians from oppression by Israel, the West and the Arab states, through a “resistance” struggle directed by the interests of the corrupt Palestinian bourgeoisie sold out to the highest bidder, now supported by a bloc of imperialists, now again by their rivals, the most tragic defeat was legitimately met.
The same opportunism of Stalinist provenance strongly influenced the Western proletarians, and especially the European ones, who alone could be credible allies in the struggle against the same enemy, i.e. the bourgeois ruling classes, whether Israeli, Arab, French, British, American or Russian. The passivity that the European proletarians showed towards the struggle of the Palestinian proletariat was not only manifested by abandoning it to its fate, while at the same time maintaining close relations with each of their national bourgeoisies in an attempt to protect those conditions which, compared to those in which the Palestinian proletarians survived, could be considered as economic and political gains that they had won over the years; it also manifested itself by fomenting, through many so-called “communist” political forces, the illusion that the solution to the “Palestinian question” was to enact, through the UN and various agreements between imperialist gangsters, the existence of two states on the same territory.
The “Palestinian resistance” to which the self-styled communist revolutionaries continue to refer to, currently represented mainly by Hamas in Gaza and the PNA in the West Bank, serves today more than yesterday to deceive and paralyse the proletarian and proletarianised Palestinian masses not only in Palestine, but also in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, where they have found refuge in the famous “refugee camps”, and everywhere else in the world where they are in exile, so that their reaction to the constant massacres to which they are subjected does not ultimately turn towards the class struggle, the only struggle that would not only place them in an independent and autonomous position vis-à-vis all other bourgeois and collaborationist forces, but which would also open up the possibility of developing class solidarity with the proletarians of the other Arab states, with the Israeli proletariat and with the proletariat of the imperialist countries, especially the European ones.
The path of the class struggle is long and remote, that is for sure, but it is the only perspective in which the material realities that are the basis of the antagonism between the proletarian masses and the bourgeoisie in all countries, historically necessarily give way to the solution of every oppression, every exploitation and every war through the revolutionary class struggle.
The manifestations in various Western capitals that can be observed since Israeli troops invaded the Gaza Strip, razed cities in the north, Gaza City itself, and proceeded in the same way in the south of the Strip, where Israel itself has forced more than 1.5 million Palestinians to move from the north, have been singing the praises of “Palestinian resistance”, waving the Palestinian flag and calling for humanitarian aid and an end to the war, represent but the umpteenth demonstration of hypocritical solidarity with a people whose innumerable massacres have been permitted, organised and carried out by the only democratic country in the Middle East, protected, supported and sustained by the great Western democracies, and the American one in particular!
Between Israel and Gaza, or rather between Israel and the Palestinians, this is not the first war that has broken out. Gaza is walking in the footsteps of Tall-el-Zaatar, when the Palestinian refugee camp of that name, located in the suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, and its inhabitants were massacred with unprecedented cruelty in 1976. Gaza, however, is run and controlled by Hamas and has become the centre of gravity of Iran’s influence in this enclave within Israel’s borders, which is intolerable to any government in Tel Aviv, whether it is Netanyahu’s or not. So apart from the fact that Netanyahu and his government were surprised by the deadly attack of 7 October, in which Hamas militias and their jihadist allies massacred more than 1,200 kibbutz residents, mostly Israeli proletarians and very few soldiers, and took more than 200 hostages in a single day, and leaving aside the corruption charges that Netanyahu wants to avoid, the fact remains, that the Israeli response – which the warmongers in Washington have described as “disproportionate” – by blindly bombing densely populated Palestinian towns and killing more than 25,000 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly, corresponds to the iron logic of war, in which the “enemy” is not just the armed combatant but the entire nation that the combatant belongs to. It is the iron logic of the fascist and Nazi massacres, of the Green Beret massacres in Vietnam and Cambodia, not to mention the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which demonstrates that the war waged by the bourgeoisie against the populations it considers the enemy is a total war.
In such wars, in fact, the proletariat is the main target because every bourgeois class knows that if there is a social force that is capable of confronting it decisively and has a serious chance of defeating it, it is the class of the proletariat, especially if it is led by the class party, as it was in Russia in 1917. And if the proletariat is not led by the class party, but by parties promoting inter-class collaboration, as is the case in Palestine, the bourgeois ruling class has largely achieved its goal of diverting the class energy of the proletariat to terrain more favourable to it, without having to suppress it systematically. In the case of the Palestinians, however, it is the indomitable drive to revolt against oppression and repression by Israel that in turn drives the Zionist state to ever more brutal and violent repression, repression that no terrorist attack can stop, for such is the appetite for land and absolute power that the Israeli bourgeoisie has demonstrated since its reassembling in Palestine after the Second World War. The imperialist, first Franco-British, then mainly American, actions led to the establishment of the State of Israel, a devoted gendarme and executioner on Arab soil, a region strategically important for world capitalism.
However, the current Israeli war against Gaza and the Palestinians, targeting as always also Lebanon and Syria, is being unleashed in an international situation that is already extremely tense because of the Russian war in Ukraine, and in a situation where the world economy is on the verge of a major crisis linked to an economic recession. So the seemingly limited clash between Israel and a well-organised terrorist militia supported by Israel's enemies inevitably takes on a completely different dimension, a dimension in which the big trusts not only for oil and gas, but also for armaments, come into force.
As we know as Marxists, it is not states that subjugate capital, but it is capital that subjugates states, and all the more so in the imperialist phase in which finance capitalism reigns supreme. The primary interest of finance capital is not only to take advantage of every situation in which it can speculate to increase its initial value, but also to create the most favourable situations for this speculation. What could be better than a war that has been or is about to be unleashed and unfolded in time and space so that profits spin at an ever-increasing speed, given that in war any weapon, weapons system, means, equipment and infrastructure is destined to be rapidly consumed so that it can be continually replaced by other weapons, equipment, etc., for which huge investments and therefore huge capital are needed?
The intertwining of the capital interests of the world’s large financial corporations, the interests of the large multinationals that are dedicated to the production of everything that is consumed quickly and in excessive quantities (e.g., drugs for epidemics and wars, armaments, raw materials for energy production, high technology, etc.), and the political interests of the large imperialist states far trump any effort by small capital and small states to escape the corrosive influence of big capital by making themselves “autonomous.” Among these interests, however, we must also consider another factor, namely wage labour, which, by virtue of its exploitation, is the real source of capital valorisation. For it is in the interests of capitalism that the proletariat in all the countries of the world remain a class subject to wage labour, class for capital, as Marx said, and all the economic, ideological, political, social, religious and repressive means that the ruling classes deem it necessary to use to prevent the proletariat from escaping its miserable fate are justified. On the one hand, they are called upon to vote, on the other hand they are killed for rebelling, and they are killed if they dare to organise and respond to violence with violence.
History teaches us, however, that the proletariat, whatever its nationality and colour, in whatever part of the world, can transform its social power, indispensable for capitalism in any country, from valoriser of capital – which means its eternal exploitation – into a gravedigger of capital, into a social force which will destroy the capitalist social system and with it the bourgeois class which represents its interests, and thus open to humanity at last a future of a society without classes, without exploitation of man by man, without oppression, without war.
The class struggle of the proletariat is not the struggle for democracy and inter-class collaboration between the exploited and the exploiters: it is a struggle for life against the bourgeois class in every country, against the wage oppression on which the bourgeoisie bases its power, against all forms of oppression, economic, political, national, gender, which all ruling classes – whether they appear in suit and tie, tunic and turban, crown or military uniform – inflict on the proletariat and the dispossessed and proletarianised masses in every country of the world.
The subjugation of the human masses to capital is international, the class struggle against capital and the bourgeois classes that administer its power is likewise international.
(1) See “Mondo coloniale in fermento” (The colonial world in ferment), Il programma comunista, No. 10/1958.
January, 4th 2024
Il comunista - le prolétaire - el proletario - proletarian - programme communiste - el programa comunista - Communist Program