Dear President Chávez

Dear President Chávez,

I, an impoverished citizen/captive of Australia, would like to extend a warm invitation for you to visit “my” country — and to answer some questions. I have watched developments in Venezuela with great interest, frequently by reference to the writings of my anarchist comrades. I have been impressed by the great efforts that the Venezuelan people have taken — in standard bourgeois phraseology — to “improve their living standards”, as well as the efforts of anarchists in that part of the world to develop a critique of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’. Like them, I have also noted with some concern the moves that your government has made to use popular discontent to establish a government based on authoritarian rule in all spheres of society — from the workplace up to the national government.

Although I am already on the opposite side of the globe I feel that my desire for the abolition of work, total subversion, and a permanent worldwide proletarian revolution with “unrestrained pleasure” as its only goal further entrenches the gulf that lies between us. Every country — and one should remember in this context that a) all nations are hallucinations and b) Paul Keating’s memorable description of Australia as being ‘The Arse End Of The Earth’ — has its own traditions and culture and has to find its own solutions, but what “Venezuela” has been able to achieve in so little time will be a source of inspiration and ideas for many in Australia (having already provided new t-shirt designs and an alternative holiday destination to Cuba for Environmental Leninists of one sort or another).

In this light I believe that a visit to my-country-right-or-wrong by yourself (but more likely yourself in the company of a large and rather intimidating security presence) would not only help to improve the awareness of the Australian people of developments in Venezuela, but also be an unparalleled opportunity a) to strengthen the ties of friendship and solidarity between our two peoples and b) for an autonomous cell of the Biotic Baking Brigade to smear vegan cream in your face in tribute to your status as President and Great Leader.



All signatures will be posted to Nelson Davila, Venezuela’s charge d’affaires in Australia, Canberra. (Todas las firmas de invitación serán enviadas a Nelson Dávila, Encargado de Negocios de Venezuela en Australia, Canberra.)

If you would like to confirm the signature of yourself or your organisation for identification and for promotion of President Chavez’ visit please contact: Jody Betzien 0425 887 078 or email info[at]venezuelasolidarity[dot]org

Venezuela: El Libertario warns of possible sentence to the 14 SIDOR workers
El Libertario, Śro, 2009-04-29 17:03 English

“After taking part in a demonstration for lack of job security in 2006, 14 workers of contractor “Transportes Camila de SIDOR” could be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in jail…”

See also :

Chavez re-nationalises SIDOR – historic victory for the workers, Jorge Martin (, April 9, 2008 | Venezuelan Steel Co. Contract Workers Incorporated, Company To Be a Socialist Enterprise, James Suggett (, June 13, 2008 | Human Rights Watch report on Venezuela: An echo of US propaganda, A statement by the AVSN, September 30, 2008 | Is Hugo Chavez cracking down on dissent?, Marcus Pabian, Direct Action, No.11, May 2009…

Uncle Hugo & the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, February 12, 2009 | Resistance is Utile: Critchley responds to Zizek (Harper’s Review, May 2008), May 16, 2008 | Don’t know what i want, But i know how to get it, March 6, 2008 | Uh-oh… troubled times ahead for anarchists in Venezuela // Bombings in Caracas, February 26, 2008 | No Todos Somos Chávez: Venezuela says ‘No’, December 4, 2007 | Viva Chávez? WSJ on the student opposition…, November 26, 2007 | anarchy is a (Venezuelan) fag!, October 2, 2007 | Venezuelan Anarchists on Chavez, WSF, January 7, 2006 |

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network AVSN

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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23 Responses to Dear President Chávez

  1. Jamie R says:

    Every country — and one should remember in this context that a) all nations are hallucinations

    You heard Eddie Izzard, do you have a flag? Then you have a nation.

  2. Jamie R says:

    Oops that was the wrong link, doesn’t include the flag observation, this is the one:

  3. Jamie R says:

    In the news today:

    (AP) – Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program, according to a secret Israeli government report obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

    The two South American countries are known to have close ties with Iran, but this is the first allegation that they are involved in the development of Iran’s nuclear program, considered a strategic threat by Israel.

    “There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program,” the Foreign Ministry document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It added, “Bolivia also supplies uranium to Iran.”

    It would be interesting, would it not, to find out that Hugo Chavez is about as vile an anti-semite hellbent on the mass-murder of Jews (in the Middle East this time) as Ahmadinejad. And it’s something I know I need to point out, being opposed to the Jews being independent and culturally Jewish is what pisses all anti-semites off, they don’t like that culture or the people having the capacity to defend it militarily. However! Ahmadinejad has said in interviews he allows Jews to live in Iran, as long as they never bother the Grand Ayatollah – of whose guarantee I’d prefer not to trust if I was Jewish.

    I enjoyed reading Ahmadinejad’s willingness to debate Obama over ‘the roots of the world’s problems’. I wonder what they might be? Similar to Hitler’s own philosophical rumourings?

  4. @ndy says:

    A secret Israeli government report? Hmmm. I think it would be wise to wait for actual evidence. But even if it is the case that Bolivia and Venezuela provides Iran with uranium — so what? Israel is the only country in that part of the world with nuclear weapons — who supplied them with uranium? And where does Australian uranium go?

    Yes, Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semite — I’m not aware of any evidence to the effect that Uncle Hugo is. In any case, the war hero with the wonky leg’s posturing is strictly for domestic consumption: the Iranian theocracy has employed such rhetoric (‘Death to America! Death to Israel!’) for decades, principally in order to provide its citizens with a target for their anger, and to channel popular discontent into acceptable and harmless forms. Otherwise, dissidents within Iran are subjected to massive state repression.

    Fuck ’em all, I says.

  5. Jamie R says:

    That’s fair enough, I know logically you’re sweet, an internationalist by way of anarchy can oppose Israel as with every other nation and not be like ol’ slim beardy in Iran.

    But! As an anarchist you can’t just paint the Neo-Nazis and Muslims like Ahmadinejad as Anti-Semitic, there is a long history of Marxists doing the same, and that’s why I’m curious, would Hugo Chavez aim to internationalise his South American revolutionary aims through allies, beyond his region, AND, believe the focal point is ridding Israel from the face of the earth? Would his beliefs then differ that much from Ahmadinejad on ‘the root of the world’s problems’?

    For someone like Chavez who has put his lot in with Fidel Castro, it’s intriguing to know how far he goes in for contempt of Jews. Because there is plenty of evidence Palestinian terror tactics were taught by Marxists in Eastern Europe, and the clusterfuck of who’s anti-semitic and who’s not probably winds up coming down to: who allows Jews their own culture and self-determination free from the threat of extermination?

  6. Jamie R says:

    Israel is the only country in that part of the world with nuclear weapons — who supplied them with uranium? And where does Australian uranium go?

    There is a good context to defend Israeli possession of nuclear weapons, they are not there to blackmail and threaten others (as many Arab nations not just Israel believe Iran’s would), but to caution and deter. Based on past aggressions against them, their lack of strategic depth as a nation-state, and following on from Nazi Germany – an independent community of Jews relying on themselves has never found peace even as it seeks it in a historical region rather than a far flung foreign land full of h8ters.

    If Australian uranium went to Russia, as it does I believe, and then went to Iran via Russia, that was Russia’s action. Australia only sends uranium to ‘rational actors’, that being the case, Iran is not deemed one and there are plenty of reasons for it. And there are plenty of disputes going on behind the scenes about Russia sending it to Iran. I’m sure the missile defence in Poland and the Czech Republic was not being put there to defend against Iran, but to pressure the Russians into stopping the supply of uranium and nuclear plants to them.

  7. @ndy says:

    On Australia and uranium:

    DFAT has issued the following statement:

    Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Trade and Security

    Nuclear Exports and Safeguards

    Australia’s Uranium Exports Policy

    Australia’s uranium export policy acknowledges the strategic significance which distinguishes uranium from other energy commodities. Australian policy has consistently recognised that special arrangements need to be put in place to distinguish between the civil and military applications of nuclear energy…

    FoE is a critic of this policy. More info here. And yes, Australian uranium is sold to Russia. More info here: FoE Submission to Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, June 2008.

    Generally speaking, uranium sales and atomic energy is overseen by the IAEA. Inre sales of Australian uranium to Russia, as FoE and numerous other campaigning groups have pointed out, there are real risks of materials being sold — both legally and illegally — to other powers.

    It is a very dirty, and dangerous, business.

    Nevertheless, there are enormous profits to be made by the corporate sector — and hence tax revenues — so business triumphs ahead of safety and security, as it does in all other aspects of ‘trade’. As an aside, anarchists in Russia have been actively campaigning against the nuclear industry. In July 2007, local neo-Nazis acting under orders from local authorities / the Russian state, organised an assault upon an environmental camp in Siberia outside of the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant (a nuclear ‘waste’ re-processing plant). One man, Ilya Borodaenko, an anarchist skinhead, was beaten to death.

    See : Neo-Nazis attack environmental protest camp in Siberia; murder one, wound others (July 21, 2007) | Statement from survivors of fascist assault in Siberia (July 22, 2007) | Who do they think they’re fooling? Angarsk, Ilya Borodaenko, and the IUEC (July 24, 2007)

  8. @ndy says:

    PS. An excellent doco on antifa in Russia:

  9. Jamie R says:

    I wouldn’t do much to oppose sensitive state industries in Putin’s Russia, if there’s one place where you’d wind up dead and no one would ever hear your story, ever, it’s there. Maybe China too.

    It is a very dirty, and dangerous, business.

    Bless science! But in all seriousness, I believe progress can’t be halted so they’ll come a day when nuclear technology and weapons will be outside of the state apparatus and in numerous private hands. It’s just a race to see who will get there first. When it spreads far enough I don’t think governments will wield the power they currently enjoy, and humans will either learn to be civil and non-violent with each other, or technology derived from scientific progress will wipe out the human species. If we ever get to that point, Neo-Luddites in the mold of Ted Kaczynski will go down saying they were right, perish the thought.

  10. @ndy says:

    Further note that one of the men featured in the above doco — the lawyer Stanislav Markelov — was murdered in Moscow in January, along with the journo Anastasia Baburova:

    Also note that, whereas many punk and hardcore bands in Russia actively oppose fascism, in Australia many punk and hardcore bands adopt a much more conservative approach. A number of local Melbourne bands even went so far as to scab on a (eventually successful) boycott of a previously fascist-friendly venue, The Birmingham Hotel in Fitzroy. The scab bands are:

      The Assailants
      Bulldog Spirit
      Charter 77 (RIP)
      Distorted Truth (RIP)
      Marching Orders
      Napalm Hearts
      No Idea
      Poverty Bay Goon
      Sewer Cider
      Slick 46
      Social Suicide
      Standard Union
      Suicide Kings
      The Beefeaters (RIP)
      The Blurters
      The Boots
      The Worst
      Wot Rot

      — and —

      Donkey Punch
      Long Haul Paul & the Pukes

    The attitude of many is perhaps best summarised by Chunga of The Worst — “Anarchy is a fag” — and a fanboy named Nowave: “No offence but honestly who gives a shit about some skinhead in Russia”.

    Most recently, for my own role in supporting the boycott (and more general anti-racist/anti-fascist activity), I’ve come in for harsh criticism from Luke B, the drummer in the wadical Sydney band ‘The New Justice Team’ (RIP).

    I attribute the laissez-faire attitude of most to the more general yuppification of punk and hardcore over the last decade or so. That, and the fact that few really want to make waves. My hope, probably forlorn, is that a younger generation of punx might adopt a more critical approach. On the other hand, it appears that a genre like hip hop might be more attractive to politically-engaged yoof.

  11. Jamie R says:

    I’ve never been into punk… I think I’ll stick with New Jack Swing.

    Here is some good reading related to other sensitive state industries: biological warfare.

    When I first heard of microbiologists falling to unsolved deaths post-9/11, it made me think, well if Al Qaeda kidnapped them… But then you start to think, what sort of biological weapons have they been able to invent? And what happens if a few of them ‘go rogue’? It wouldn’t take much from those guys to embark on mass killings, unlike nuclear weapons. When the human and his mind and just a vial is the weapon, it’s much more dangerous than another Manhattan Project.

  12. @ndy says:

    This is getting very messy: if ya wanna response, ya gotta gimme time Jamie!


    1) There is a distinction between the nation and the state.
    2) The relationship between Marxism and anti-Semitism is complex. Formally speaking, anti-Semitism is incompatible with Marxism.
    3) Uncle Hugo’s ‘revolution’ in Venezuela needs to be placed in a broader context, and that is a) a more general ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ in a number of states in South America and b) Peronism.
    4) I’m not aware of the precise position Uncle Hugo has adopted vis-a-vis Israel. But as I’ve already indicated, afaik, he does not subscribe to the sorts of views promulgated by the Iranian government, most recently at ‘Durban II’.
    5) “Palestinian terror tactics were” not “taught by Marxists in Eastern Europe”; the actual history of which is much more complicated.

    Moar l8r… but please gimme more time to respond!

  13. @ndy says:


    6) All states justify their possession of nuclear weapons in terms of ‘security’. Israel’s own arsenal is subject to a policy of ‘we neither confirm nor deny’.
    7) Either humanity halts ‘progress’, or ‘progress’ halts humanity.
    EIGHT) The dangers posed by nuclear proliferation, especially in terms of ‘dirty bombs’, are discussed by Uncle Noam in the following:

    Noam Chomsky: We must act now to prevent another Hiroshima – or worse
    The Independent
    August 6, 2005

    This month’s anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompts only the most sombre reflection and most fervent hope that the horror may never be repeated.

    In the subsequent 60 years, those bombings have haunted the world’s imagination but not so much as to curb the development and spread of infinitely more lethal weapons of mass destruction.

    A related concern, discussed in technical literature well before 11 September 2001, is that nuclear weapons may sooner or later fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

    The recent explosions and casualties in London are yet another reminder of how the cycle of attack and response could escalate, unpredictably, even to a point horrifically worse than Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

    The world’s reigning power accords itself the right to wage war at will, under a doctrine of “anticipatory self-defence” that covers any contingency it chooses. The means of destruction are to be unlimited.

    US military expenditures approximate those of the rest of the world combined, while arms sales by 38 North American companies (one in Canada) account for more than 60 per cent of the world total (which has risen 25 per cent since 2002).

    There have been efforts to strengthen the thin thread on which survival hangs. The most important is the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which came into force in 1970. The regular five-year review conference of the NPT took place at the United Nations in May.

    The NPT has been facing collapse, primarily because of the failure of the nuclear states to live up to their obligation under Article VI to pursue “good faith” efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. The United States has led the way in refusal to abide by the Article VI obligations. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, emphasises that “reluctance by one party to fulfil its obligations breeds reluctance in others”.

    President Jimmy Carter blasted the United States as “the major culprit in this erosion of the NPT. While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons, including anti-ballistic missiles, the earth-penetrating ‘bunker buster’ and perhaps some new ‘small’ bombs. They also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states”.

    The thread has almost snapped in the years since Hiroshima, repeatedly. The best known case was the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, “the most dangerous moment in human history”, as Arthur Schlesinger, historian and former adviser to President John F Kennedy, observed in October 2002 at a retrospective conference in Havana.

    The world “came within a hair’s breadth of nuclear disaster”, recalls Robert McNamara, Kennedy’s defence secretary, who also attended the retrospective. In the May-June issue of the magazine Foreign Policy, he accompanies this reminder with a renewed warning of “apocalypse soon”.

    McNamara regards “current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous”, creating “unacceptable risks to other nations and to our own”, both the risk of “accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch”, which is “unacceptably high”, and of nuclear attack by terrorists. McNamara endorses the judgement of William Perry, President Bill Clinton’s defence secretary, that “there is a greater than 50 per cent probability of a nuclear strike on US targets within a decade”.

    Similar judgements are commonly expressed by prominent strategic analysts. In his book Nuclear Terrorism, the Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison reports the “consensus in the national security community” (of which he has been a part) that a “dirty bomb” attack is “inevitable”, and an attack with a nuclear weapon highly likely, if fissionable materials – the essential ingredient – are not retrieved and secured.

    Allison reviews the partial success of efforts to do so since the early 1990s, under the initiatives of Senator Sam Nunn and Senator Richard Lugar, and the setback to these programmes from the first days of the Bush administration, paralysed by what Senator Joseph Biden called “ideological idiocy”.

    The Washington leadership has put aside non-proliferation programmes and devoted its energies and resources to driving the country to war by extraordinary deceit, then trying to manage the catastrophe it created in Iraq.

    The threat and use of violence is stimulating nuclear proliferation along with jihadi terrorism.

    A high-level review of the “war on terror” two years after the invasion “focused on how to deal with the rise of a new generation of terrorists, schooled in Iraq over the past couple of years”, Susan B Glasser reported in The Washington Post.

    “Top government officials are increasingly turning their attention to anticipate what one called ‘the bleed out’ of hundreds or thousands of Iraq-trained jihadists back to their home countries throughout the Middle East and Western Europe. ‘It’s a new piece of a new equation,’ a former senior Bush administration official said. ‘If you don’t know who they are in Iraq, how are you going to locate them in Istanbul or London?'”

    Peter Bergen, a US terrorism specialist, says in The Boston Globe that “the President is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front we created”.

    Shortly after the London bombing, Chatham House, Britain’s premier foreign affairs institution, released a study drawing the obvious conclusion – denied with outrage by the Government – that “the UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the United States, has deployed armed forces in the military campaigns to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and in Iraq … [and is] a pillion passenger” of American policy, sitting behind the driver of the motorcycle.

    The probability of apocalypse soon cannot be realistically estimated, but it is surely too high for any sane person to contemplate with equanimity. While speculation is pointless, reaction to the threat of another Hiroshima is definitely not.

    On the contrary, it is urgent, particularly in the United States, because of Washington’s primary role in accelerating the race to destruction by extending its historically unique military dominance, and in the UK, which goes along with it as its closest ally.

    9) “Neo-Luddites in the mold of Ted Kaczynski”? I’d like to see that!

  14. Jamie R says:

    This is getting very messy: if ya wanna response, ya gotta gimme time Jamie!

    I always come back if the thread is still going, and I need time if I’m going to back up my points with my memory references too.

    These two points:

    2) The relationship between Marxism and anti-Semitism is complex. Formally speaking, anti-Semitism is incompatible with Marxism.

    5) “Palestinian terror tactics were” not “taught by Marxists in Eastern Europe”; the actual history of which is much more complicated.

    I do have some evidence. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. A Romanian if I remember correctly.

    I’ll note that history backs up the fact that the Soviets were intimately involved with the Arabs during their wars with Israel. So it’s not as far-fetched as one might think as to just how far Marxism has gone into opposing Jewish self-determination post-WWII, and also how much it was involved in Anti-Semitic propaganda.

    I know some stuff about Lenin’s and Marxism’s views, and taken on face value, you would think, unlike Hitler, they do not view them as THE Exploiters but rather a diversion. But, Stalin increasingly associated Jews with “cosmopolitanism” and pro-Americanism as time went on. Why would he do that? Much like Aryans perceiving that Jews were getting richer and taking the best jobs in Germany – a slap in the face to their race and blood cult – while it sunk into debt post-1920s post-Versailles Treaty, the Jews ethnically-speaking were more successful per-capita (still are today) and so a good proportion of the community wound up inevitably offending the Marxists and their goals as well (even today, two names, Berezovsky and Abramovich are prominent Jews from Russia with a lot of wealth).

  15. @ndy says:


    Re Marxism and anti-Semitism:

    Much depends, obviously, on how one defines ‘Marxism’. A basic definition: ‘the political and economic theories of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), later developed by their followers to form the basis for the theory and practice of communism’. ‘Marxism-Leninism’, on the other hand, may be defined as being ‘the doctrines of Marx as interpreted and put into effect by Lenin in the Soviet Union’. It should be noted, in this context, that the term ‘Marxism’ was unknown in Marx’s lifetime; the development of a specific ideology (or ideologies) termed ‘Marxism’ really only became established via the efforts of his epigones, beginning in the late nineteenth century, and in the context of the Second International. From this point, there began to develop various forms of Marxist orthodoxy (‘dialectical materialism’ and so on).

    The place of Jews in Marx’s own thought received its most elaborate expression in ‘On The Jewish Question’ (1843), his response to the critique of Judaism put forward by a bloke named Bruno Bauer. This text should be read in context, which is that of the campaign within Germany to accord Jews civil rights (which Marx supported — although principally as a step towards a fuller, more complete form of human emancipation).

    ‘On The Jewish Question’ is composed of two essays, the first of which critiques Bauer, and the second of which assumes a more polemical form, and which addresses the nature and function of ‘Jewishness’ in the context of eighteenth and nineteenth century Germany, one which pays a good deal more attention to the economic and social role of Jews in Germany (and Europe) during this period than its expression of human spirituality (theology). It is this second essay which later came to be interpreted as expressing anti-Semitism on Marx’s part, especially as the success of the campaign for Jewish ’emancipation’ generated a reactionary backlash within Germany towards the end of the nineteenth century. (It is also the case that Marx expressed vulgar anti-Semitism in his correspondence.) The question of anti-Semitism within Marx’s theoretical work assumed much more importance following the Nazi Holocaust, especially given his call for the emancipation of mankind from Judaism — a task which, taken at face value, the Nazis very nearly succeeded in achieving.

    Much more could be said about the place of Jews and the status of Judaism within Marx’s thought — and indeed has been.

    As for Stalin, he was a much better dictator than he was a theorist, and his use of anti-Semitism should be read, I think, in terms of social control; as, indeed, much of the history of anti-Semitism could be, under various regimes, of varying political hues. Within Christian Europe, that is, ‘The Jew’ has almost always been the fall guy. In the modern era, the anti-Jewish pogroms which were a charcteristic of Eastern and Western Europe over (too) many centuries assumed genocidal, and not merely murderously oppressive, forms.

    A few more points:

    ‘The Jew’ has always been identified with ‘cosmopolitanism’, often expressed as a form of ‘rootlessness’. (This is one of the reasons — but not the only — Palestine was characterised as being ‘a land without people for a people without land’.) Partly as a consequence of this ‘rootlessness’, the figure of ‘The Jew’ has also been associated with ‘intellectualism’: two themes which the Nazis especially capitalised upon (but which were developed by earlier generations of anti-Semitic writers; see, for example, the work of Wilhelm Marr (1819–1904), a figure often credited with being the proud father of modern anti-Semitism).

    Re Marxism and Palestinian terrorism:

    Yes, Communist regimes provided various forms of training to, for example, groups like the PLO. This is well-known (especially since Communism collapsed and previously secret archives have become available to scholars and other interested parties). What I’m actually taking issue with is the implication that, absent such assistance, ‘the Palestinians’ were incapable of ‘terrorism’. Rather, what the Communist regimes provided was various forms of political and technical support (frequently covert). In this context, it’s also worth contrasting Palestinian terrorism against Israel with Zionist terrorism against the British mandate of Palestine. On this subject see, for example, Lenni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir (1984), especially Chapter 8:

    8. The Years of Fascism and Terror

    Palestine in the 1920s

    Zionism was far from a thriving enterprise in the 1920s. It had its adherents everywhere there were Jews but, not competing for power anywhere – except in far-off Palestine – it gave off a fringe utopian quality, akin to Esperanto or pacifism. Intellectuals conceived of it as little more than a slightly ridiculous attempt to set up a national museum. Many Jews opposed it for its emphasis on the separateness of the Jews. The bourgeois Jewish charities were more interested in aiding the real Jewish communities in Poland and the Soviet Union, and capital investment lagged. Its main strength lay in Poland. With the closing off of emigration to the US, Palestine became attractive to a substantial portion of the conservative and religious petty bourgeois, who saw no future for themselves under the severe discriminations of Prime Minister Wladislaw Grabski, who ruthlessly used every means short of violence to squeeze the Jews out of their economic positions. The influx of small businessmen and artisans caused a brief boom, followed by a severe financial panic. The ensuing depression brought a virtual halt to immigration and in 1927 only about 2,700 immigrants arrived, while more than 5,000 left the colony. The WZO was compelled to set up soup kitchens for the unemployed and actively encourage them to leave Palestine. [1] In order to extend their meagre financial base, the WZO was driven to set up the Jewish Agency as a sort of joint board with the Jewish charities, which, at least nominally, was supposed to represent the Zionist Yishuv in its dealings with the British. The slowing of the pace of immigration, keeping the Jewish percentage of the population down to a still insignificant 16.3 in 1927, permitted a superficial lull in the conflict with the Arabs, but it had merely been transformed into other forms. Economically, competition continued unabated, particularly for crucial government contracts and development projects. At the mass level, the antagonism took on a seemingly sectarian form which finally exploded into a savage pogrom in 1929…

    PS. On a somewhat related note — that is, speaking of Marxism, anti-Semitism, and violence — see ‘Black Flag: Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross’ (April 14, 2009):

    …it was always impossible to ask the Red Cross to look after the sick and wounded and imprisoned of the Class War. In a Civil War (e.g. Spain 1936) they might do so; but not in cases where there was no declared civil war. This gap in the Red Cross became particularly noticeable in Czarist Russia. The rulers of that country had in effect declared a civil war against their own subjects. In particular they used the Cossacks to murder the Jews. The Jewish population was a hostage to the revolution. If the Russian workers protested, the Czar diverted their revolutionary aims by organising a pogrom. It was at once an example to the Russian masses, and a warning as to what would happen to those who incurred official displeasure. When the “Black Hundreds” raided the Jewish districts, the police stood by. If ever the Jews resisted (and Anarchists and Bundists at times organised Self Defence Committees that fought back) the police stepped in and fought the defenders, arresting them for violent activity.

    International Jewry organised its own committees for relief of the Russian Jews; but such bodies did not extend their help to the Anarchists and Bundists who had — dreadful to relate to the bourgeois sponsors of such committees — had the temerity to fight back. So a committee was formed in America, amongst Russian Jewish workers in particular, called the WORKERS RED CROSS (which changed its title after a few months to ANARCHIST RED CROSS, since the Red Cross Workers, asked them to do so to avoid confusion).

    The ANARCHIST RED CROSS, centred in Chicago, raised a large amount of aid not only for the Jewish fighters in Russia but also for the entire Russian revolutionary movement. It sent field workers to Russian prisons, aided deportees and (not being bound by any convention such as the official Red Cross) also sent in illegal propaganda. The existence of such a body meant, too, that aid could speedily be sent to victims of the class war in many countries. Perhaps one day the full story of the Anarchist Red Cross will be told. (Its work was carried on for a long time after its demise by the Free Society Group of Chicago; in particular, comrades Boris Yelensky and Celia Goldberg)…

  16. grumpy cat says:

    Hi there.

    I would, at least, like to claim that Marxism cannot simply be reduced to Soviet policy. I am also not sure that opposing ‘Jewish self-determination’ equals anti-Semitism, especially if ‘Jewish self-determinism’ equals Zionism. There is a long history of Jewish people (many of them Marxists) who opposed anti-Semitism and were also not Zionists.

    There is plenty of evidence that Marx used anti-Semitic language in his private correspondence about political opponents. His early political positions on Judaism — On the Jewish Question (a piece of Marx’s writing I both love and detest) — argues that the liberation of Jewish people can only be found in the liberation of humanity. This piece of writing suffers from a word play that Marx engages in. According to my version of it (Penguin Classics) at the time of writing ‘Judaism’ was used as a synonym for commerce generally. This reflects the anti-Semitism of the time. So when Marx makes remarks about the need for Jews to be emancipated from Judaism, it is unclear if he is being a racist or if he is saying Jews need to be freed from class society and this is only possible on the basis of the struggle of humanity.

    And just to throw my own two cents in, speaking as someone many would consider a Marxist and someone many would consider Jewish, I think this position is correct. No oppressed group can find liberation except as part of the struggle to liberate humanity as a whole. Part of the tragedy of Israel (and of any national liberation struggle) is that the forms of the struggle for freedom become chains: both for those who become the new victims and for those who have apparently found ‘their’ freedom…

    rebel love

  17. @ndy says:

    Loving rebel Dave the grumpy cat,

    I think you’ve pretty much banged the nail on the head.

    Three things:

    1. While Marxism cannot be reduced to Soviet policy, it’s worth recognising the existence of a thang called ‘Soviet Marxism’, more-or-less the Official Ideology of the now-defunct (and incredibly misleadingly-titled) ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR), aka the Russian Empire. NB. To its credit, the followers of the remnants of this form of Marxism are a leftist trainspotter’s dream.

    2. There is indeed a rich vein of radical, anti-Zionist Jewish thought, sometimes Marxist, sometimes not, but invariably informed by Marxism of one sort or another. In this context, I think that the work of Fredy Perlman is particularly relevant, especially his 1984 essay on ‘The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism’.

    3. The manner in which prior forms of struggle and ‘successes’ sometimes? / often? / invariably? assume new, oppressive, or even tyrannical forms brings to mind a number of issues, one of which is the extent to which Marxism may be read as being a progressivist (teleological) ideology.

  18. Jamie R says:

    In this context, it’s also worth contrasting Palestinian terrorism against Israel with Zionist terrorism against the British mandate of Palestine.

    First, recall the terror inflicted on Jews in the Holy Land during this time, before Israel was a state, they had to fend for themselves every time the Arabs rioted.

    Recall that Palestine was just a word back then and did not represent a nationalist Arab struggle. History documents a committed Arab struggle being defeated, subsequently followed by a policy of guerilla warfare assisted by Eastern European Marxists.

    I would, at least, like to claim that Marxism cannot simply be reduced to Soviet policy.

    It is not what I was getting at, simply Karl Marx’s policies meeting what we call ‘reality’.

    I am also not sure that opposing ‘Jewish self-determination’ equals anti-Semitism, especially if ‘Jewish self-determinism’ equals Zionism.

    The Jewish people and its culture are a successful lot. I don’t know if you’ve seen that list of Nobel Prizes and those from this small state? (It has more award-winners than the Persians and the Arabs combined.) So it’s a lot of successful folks. This is in opposition to a state of equality where the rich aren’t rich and the poor aren’t poor. Karl Marx’s problem is that he was fighting against, ironically, the continued and inevitable success of his own people.

  19. Jamie R says:

    “You will not be jealous of what others have.”

    — Moses

    Karl went his own way.

    “Where are we going?”

    “To the land God promised us.”

    “How long will it take?”

    “Until God thinks we’re ready.”

  20. Jamie R says:

    I got some jokes about this from my news blog! TGI Friday, let’s have some fun! (Well from me, I try but yeah can be a cunt). It’s from 2007. I just clicked on archives, this is late 2007. Yeah be drinkin’.

    # Israel opened part of a major commercial crossing with Gaza on Thursday for the first time since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the coastal strip two weeks ago, U.N. and Israeli officials said. Wheat was transferred weighing about 5,000 tonnes, and it will be processed in mills in Gaza. Some bags of wheat failed inspections at Hamas checkpoints and were consequently tied to the back of cars and dragged through the streets while Hamas militants shot at them.

    # Israel fired missiles and sent tanks on a foray into Gaza on Wednesday, killing four Palestinians in the first military action since Hamas militants took control. Fatah held up banners as the tanks passed them by, including “Go Zionist Enemy!” and “Take Them Down Zionist Filth!”

    # Israeli troops imposed a curfew on downtown Nablus and clashed with Fatah militants as the army’s activities moved Thursday from Gaza to the West Bank. The Nablus raid was an indication that Israel will not stop fighting militants linked to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement – even though Israel is supporting Abbas in his struggle against Hamas. After a dangerous day of skirmishes, both Israeli soldiers and Fatah members scanned out their clock cards, shook hands, and went home for the night.

    # Hamas cemented its control over Gaza today, seizing weapons from the pro-Fatah security services they routed in the territory, where even the home of iconic leader Yasser Arafat became a looting target. Hamas was disgusted at what they found, disgusted that in the cupboards all there was to eat were cheetos.

    # Hamas fighters overran two of the rival Fatah movement’s most important security command centers in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, major advances in the Islamic group’s attempts to take over Gaza. “We are telling our people that the past era has ended and will not return,” Islam Shahawan, a spokesman for Hamas’ militia, told Hamas radio. “The era of justice and Islamic rule and chocolate cake has arrived.” The Hamas spokesman looked down at his reader notes then turned back to his fellow militants, “Okay, who added chocolate cake?”

  21. grumpy cat says:

    I am pretty sure Karl Marx had few, if any ‘policies’…

  22. @ndy says:

    …Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.

    These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.

    Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.

    1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
    2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
    3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
    4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
    5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
    6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
    7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
    8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
    9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
    10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

  23. grumpy cat says:

    Hi All

    I was pretty much expecting someone to quote that section of the Manifesto. But to be fair it is only a tiny part of Marx’s writings and I suspect it represents more of an attempt to form a kind of common platform for a political group more than anything else.

    I am sure some of his other writings might have some other kinds of suggestions relating to specific issues etc. But these are minor parts of his work. In fact isn’t that the point: that Marx was too hesitant to provide a blueprint of the future, rather imagining that it would simply arise from the collective action of the class?

    Good question about teleology. Deserves a proper answer. Perhaps when I have finished all this fucking marking…

    rebel love

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