Friday, August 15, 2014

Is there a capitalist solution to anything?

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure. Samuel Johnson

I wanted to add further comment to the comments with yesterday's video of Norman Finkelstein talking about the Irsrael/Palestine situation and the weakness of the BDS campaign.  I thought it better not to add further length and content  to that so here are further thoughts. I am, also just thinking out loud a bit.

I think Professor Finkelstein laid out the situation there perfectly and touched on what a solution might be which would mean agreement from both camps.  His criticism of the BDS campaign was spot on, that it doesn't have an acceptable position to the Israeli's. It has a position that is hidden because they understand it is not a viable one, one that can lead to a genuine solution.

I was thinking about this more because even if we were in agreement on the solution, can this solution be found within the framework of capitalism?  I cannot see it. I do not believe as the professor seems to imply, that Northern Ireland is a done deal by any means.

Professor Finkelstein talks of Palestinian power lying in the Palestinian people and their mobilization, and conscious involvement in the struggle. But for the Palestinian people to reach that point the present leaders need to have this approach but they do not.  That's why the description reminded me of the trade union hierarchy who are in a similar position, mobilizing their members has consequences that would likely mean them losing power. There would have to be a shift in the composition and ideology of the leadership, a political struggle taking place initiated by the pressure from below perhaps.

But even if the mobilization of this power took place surely it would not be able to achieve its goal within the framework of capitalism.  Just in a nutshell it seems to me that the radicalizing of the Palestinian masses would be an inevitable result of mobilization, would not only be opposed by the present leadership but also by regimes throughout the Arab world as well as Iran.  Such a development would draw in the Arab working class which has tremendous potential power as we have seen over the past period and threaten the rule of the Arab ruling class that is subservient to western capitalism..

The Mullahs (contrary to what many American workers think, Iranians are not Arabs) would find themselves on the side of their dreaded enemies, Cheney and co.  The Zionist regime is obviously in the opposite camp as the target of this mass movement.  Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, all these nation states will be affected.  The Palestinians want a state as well.  It's as clear as a bell that we have a nation state in formation there or struggling to develop.

This whole scenario would be met with the most fierce resistance from the US and western interests in league with their Zionist allies.  The US working class would not be unaffected either.    The rising working class offensive, inside Israel/Palestine and without, would also draw certain conclusions would it not; that protest and pressure on the various regimes has its limits.

So in the course of this struggle taking place and new leaders emerging they would be confronted with a larger problem, state power and the system itself, capitalism's failure would be taken up and socialist traditions would re-emerge once more. This is where a federation of socialist states arises as the alternative.

A friend said to me the other day that the UN should be the peacekeeping force, should help the sides develop a healthy relationship and stuff like that. But the UN is a capitalist club, an organization of global capitalism dominated by major capitalist powers. The UN as a club of capitalist nation states cannot play this role.  Capitalism is a competitive system, not an harmonious or egalitarian one, it is a state of permanent war and at times the talking ceases and the war shifts from the political to the military plane. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were destroyed for this reason.  Ireland, the Congo and India were colonized for this reason, the struggle for markets and the ownership and control of the world's wealth, its raw materials. British colonialism never ruled Ireland because it hated the Irish race, it never invaded Africa because they didn't like black people.

This is why socialists argue for international working class solidarity and class unity as opposed to national unity or unity based on national or racial origin. Go to your local Chinatown and see how Chinese bosses exploit poor Chinese immigrant. Where's the unity there?  This does not mean that we don't recognize racism and sexism as special oppressions, an added burden other workers have to bare.

This is why throughout the Arab spring, the Israel/Palestine conflict or more recently the Ukraine, socialists call for unity between the working classes of both camps and the linking of the workers organizations. We argue for workers councils in the workplaces and in our communities and armed worker's militias to protect and defend our democratic gains from reactionary racist and fascist forces that capitalism resorts to when faced with the working class on the move.  We call for our own political parties and for public ownership, management and control of the sectors of the  capitalist economy that are crucial to human needs and survival.

It is my view that when workers begin to go on the offensive, we tend to try to overcome these divide and rule barriers that the capitalist class resort to with a vengeance; try telling sexist or racist jokes on a picket line.  They are not well received, class consciousness is further to the fore and workers recognize they are divisive and against our self interest. This is not necessarily a permanent state of affairs but it reflects a higher consciousness and one that we must help develop.

We see the Palestinian union federation calling for international actions. There have been demonstrations throughout the world in support of the Palestinians. There have been major clashes in Israel between leftists and right wing, even fascist elements.  Gazans have reached out to the Ferguson community and domestically there have been protests all over the US in support of this community's battle with the beefed up police apparatus.  We, or they, should not be fooled by the recent resorting to the carrot as opposed to the stick with the Highway Patrol chief, a black man, walking along with protestors and supporting their right to protest; the same folks are in charge.  They are simply responding to what they saw as a situation developing that might get out of their control.

These are some thoughts on what has to be done, what will work and what won't.  Of course, nothing is guaranteed in this world.  The Zionists are some nasty characters. It can't be ruled out that they wouldn't nuke Iran or just bombing them would be a catastrophe.  A terrorist group could get a hold of nuclear weapons and start a major global crisis.  US capitalism, the most violent of all of them, could make a major mistake as it loses its global influence. It too could use nuclear weapons; they have before. They would use them on their own people if they had to.

The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky once said we have only one choice, Socialism or Barbarism. But we have moved beyond this, it is socialism or the end of life as we know it.

Lastly, this is not a treatise, it is just thoughts from one socialist worker to others, socialists or otherwise. I welcome any comments or constructive criticism that can broaden our understanding of what we must do to literally save the planet. I have abandoned the idea long ago that any individual or group of individuals have all the answers or that one leader knows all. I believe Marx offered the best analysis of why society changes and how conscious humanity can influence that change.  But Marxism is not a dogma, just a way of looking at the world that this blogger believes comes the closest to objective reality.

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