Abstract: After the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, a change took place in Trotskyist positions concerning Jews. The earlier positions saw Jews as one of the oppressed peoples of the world. While the movement has always opposed Zionism, earlier pronouncements routinely coupled this opposition with denunciations of what where seen as anti-Semitic aspects of the Arab nationalist movement. After 1967, most sections of the Trotskyist movement began to characterize the Jews of Israel as an 'oppressor nation' and called for the destruction of Israel. The movement also began to distribute an earlier publication that characterized the Jewish tradition as one of usury.
When Karl Marx was a young man of twenty-six and some time before he wrote any of the works that were to make him world-famous, he published an essay of about eleven thousand words 'on the Jewish question,' Zur Judenfrage. (1) In the course of this essay Marx made some extremely hostile comments on Jews, most notably accusing them of "money-mindedness." This little essay stands isolated -- in both subject matter and spirit -- from the opus of the more mature Marx, and has generally been ignored by all the factions of the Marxist movement. (2)
Ignored, that is, until it was resurrected by the post-Trotsky Trotskyists after the Arab-Israel war of 1967. As I shall show, this turn came as part of general post-War re-orientation of the Trotskyist movement and involved a repudiation of positions taken by Trotsky.
Trotskyism today, fifty years after the death of its founder, is divided into numerous groups and grouplets, each claiming to be more faithful than the others to Trotsky's vision of a Fourth International. The major formations are in France, Britain, and the United States, but there are also groups in South America, Sri Lanka, and other countries. Except for two groups in Britain, the movement can hardly be said to be very influenctial anywhere.(3) But through its great earnestness, its faithfulness to Marxist and Leninist texts and often to the spirit of Marx, and perhaps through its very fractiousness and combativeness, the Trotskyist movement may well serve as one of the important case studies of Marxism and its vicissitudes.
Leon Trotsky and the Jews
The Jewish origins and the original Jewish name of Trotsky -- Lev Davidovich Bronstein -- were well known in his lifetime. Unlike Marx, Trotsky was never baptized in the Christian faith, and, though a staunch atheist, he never denied his Jewishness to himself or to others. (4)
In the whole period after the Russian revolution of 1917, Trotsky was a faithful disciple of Lenin's, and, until he was displaced by rivals after Lenin's death, Trotsky was generally regarded as the second man, after Lenin, in the Bolshevist leadership. On the question of Jews, Lenin the non-Jew andTrotsky the Jew expressed themselves in almost identical terms. The emphasis was always on the evils of anti-Semitism, with opposition to any form of Jewish 'particularism,' either in the form of Bundism or Zionism, playing a distinctly secondary role. Though both Lenin and Trotsky prided themselves on their unquestioning discipleship to Marx, neither ever voiced Marx's negative sentiments concerning Jews; in fact, as far as can be determined, neither ever mentioned Marx's writings on the Jews. By the same token, of course, it is also true that they never criticized Marx on this account.(5)
As is well known, Trotsky and his supporters in the 'Left Opposition' became the object of a most vicious campaign of vilification at the hand of their erstwhile Bolshevist comrades. The campaign began in the middle 1920s and utilized as one of its weapons -- through innuendo and indirection -- the exploitation of popular Russian anti-Semitism. Trotsky and Lenin had taught that anti-Semitism would naturally die once capitalism is defeated and a 'workers state' established. By February of 1937 Trotsky saw how wrong he had been in this and wrote his now-famous article 'Thermidor and Anti-Semitism.' Here he exposed not only Stalin's use of anti-Semitism but he also acknowledged that the problem of Jews in European society is more complex than Communists had thought it to be. This article was not published until after Trotsky's death, and then not by his own closest supporters but by the 'Shachtmanites,' the by then schismatic group whom he had fought so bitterly in the last few months of his life.(6)
Nedava has suggested that Trotsky himself used a very subtle form of anti-Semitism in this last faction fight. (7)Trotsky and his immediate followers (James P. Cannon and the 'Cannonites') accused the opposition (Max Shachtman and the 'Shachtmanites') of being more 'petty-bourgeois' and less 'proletarian' than they. The 'Shachtmanites' had a greater following in the New York local, which was also more Jewish in membership than the rest of the country. Some of the members of the Shachtman group, indeed, accused the 'Cannonites' of 'catering to prejudices.' (8)
I was personally acquainted with the Trotskyist movement in those days and I find Nedava's suggestion, while not totally without merit, to be somewhat tenuous. I have checked with Albert Glotzer, one of the leaders of the Shachtmanite faction at the time and a Jew who has become critical of Trotsky on many points. He denies any anti-Semitic implications in the faction fight of those years. (9) It is probably true, on the other hand, that the occupational distribution among the Jews, even in the Trotskyist movement of those years, was relatively less "proletarian" than that of non-Jews, and this was bound to have unfavourable implications in this strictly Marxist sect.
Finally, the Jewish press in several countries has published interviews which Trotsky had granted in 1937. Some of his statements can be interpreted as tentative encouragement for Jewish territorial aspirations, and some people have even interpreted his words as implying support for Jewish claims to Palestine. What is certain is that, although remaining a firm internationalist and anti-Zionist, he never ceased to be concerned for the suffering of his fellow Jews.(10)
Jews and the pre-War Trotskyist movement
From its beginnings in 1929 (11) until the coming of the Second World War, the following were among the most conspicuous features of the Trotskyist movement:
1. Trotskyism represented a radical leftism, which in the political culture of the day involved the greatest possible enmity toward the radical right, i.e. the Nazis.
2. Trotsky and his followers exposed and denounced the Stalinist dictatorship, and they pointedly called it 'totalitarian' to show its similarities to Hitlerism. (12) On this important issue they were very isolated in left-wing circles in the 1930s and 1940s. At a time when the crimes of Stalin were so generally denied in the West, the Trotskyist movement showed much more realism and much more courage than conventional liberal and left-wing politicians.
3. Trotskyist groups were very small everywhere, but the average intellectual awareness of its members was probably much higher than that of the competing Communist and Social Democratic mass parties. This statement is of course impressionistic and difficult to prove; I base it on personal recollection and on the published descriptions and memoirs for the period.(13) (The impression one gets from the Trotskyist movement today is quite different).
4. Using the same kind of imperfect evidence, it is my impression that the membership and perhaps even more the leadership in these groups was largely Jewish from their beginnings around 1930 until approximately the middle 1960s. Furthermore, quite a few of the best known older Jewish intellectuals in the United States, and to some extent also in Britain and France, had some connection with the Trotskyist movement in the 1930s and early 1940s.
No more than a very small minority of Jews ever were Trotskyists or Trotskyist sympathizers, but those who were, in this early period, were substantially in accord with the general consensus of Jewish public opinion: anti-Fascism, a taste for intellectualizing, distrust of Stalin. These Jewish Trotskyists were far from being 'the average Jew,' whatever that might mean, but neither were they radically at odds with their families or the social milieu from which they had sprung. The moderate -- as it appears in retrospect -- anti-Zionism of these Trotskyists would not have been an insufferable irritant; at any rate, Jews had not yet accepted Zionism as fervently or as quasi-universally as they did later.
One way of following the striking changes in Trotskyist positions on Jews and Zionism is to read the writings over the years by Tony Cliff (Ygael Gluckstein).(14) In the 1930s he wrote for American Trotskyist journals as a member of then-illegal Trotskyist group in Palestine, using the name L. Rock. (15) In 1946 he emigrated to Britain where he eventually developed his distinctive view of the Soviet Union as 'state-capitalist'. Today he is the leader of the (British) Socialist Workers Party, one of the more important Trotskyist groups worldwide.
Writing in 1938, Cliff, like other Trotskyists of the time, opposed Zionism and the idea of a Jewish state, but he opposed with equal vigour the 'anti-Jewish' nature of the 'Arab nationalist movement,' in particular pointing to the Arab 'pogroms' of 1929.(16) Condemnations of the 1929 murder of rabbinical students at Hebron and of the Nazi connections of Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1930s, regularly accompanied Trotskyist denunciations of Zionism in this period. As we shall see, Tony Cliff changed this line after 1967.
Trotskyism and the War: The Main Enemy is at Home !
Until the Second World War, then, it can fairly be said that the internal culture of the Trotskyists groups, even more than any of their formal documents, assumed that Hitler and Stalin were the arch enemies. Today the enemy is 'American imperialism' of which Zionism is taken to be an appendage. This change in the movement's demonology had as its concomitant not only a radically different relationship to Jews, which I will describe presently, but also a precipitous drop in the proportion of Jewish members. (17)
The change did not come all at once. Speaking in retrospect, it was foreshadowed in the very harsh stance of the movement in opposition to the Allies' war against Hitler.
The Communist movement of Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, and Liebknecht had been founded in opposition to the 'social patriotism' of the social democrats in the First World War, and Trotskyists had, using the same terminology, always insisted that no side in a war among the 'capitalist' powers should ever be supported by the proletariat. But on the other hand Trotsky had been particularly sensitive to the dangers of Hitler, and had indeed shown signs of regarding the German 'fascists' as much more dangerous than ordinary capitalist governments. (18) Trotsky had also called for a vote against annexation to Hitler's Reich in the Saar plebiscite of 1935 while the Moscow-oriented Communists, at the beginning of the campaign, still considered such a vote to be a sell-out to 'French imperialism.' (19)
Just before the war, some Trotskyists in Palestine, apparently Jewish, wrote to Trotsky to express concern over the traditional Bolshevist strategy of 'revolutionary defeatism' according to which the main enemy of the proletariat is always at home and revolutionary activity is to be carried on in wartime even though that may cause the defeat of one's own country. These Trotskyists assked whether the movement could indeed regard the two sides in a coming war, in which Hitler's Germany would no doubt be a participant, as equally reprehensible; whether, in effect, the Fourth International should counsel the working class of the Western countries to carry on activities against their own governments even at the risk of helping Hitler win the war.
Trotsky's reply was extremely harsh and unequivocal: the old Bolshevist slogans from World War I still holds. The 'capitalist' governments of the West are as likely as not to turn fascist anyway. 'A victory over the armies of Hitler and Mussolini implies in itself only the military defeat of Germany and Italy, and not at all the collapse of fascism.' Furthermore, 'the more resolute, firm and irreconcilable our position is on this question all the better will the masses understand us ...' (20)
Once the war broke out, Trotsky wrote the solemn 'Manifesto of the Fourth International on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World Revolution' (May 1940) which failed to see much difference between Western democracies and Hitler Germany:
"But isn't the working class obliged in the present conditions to aid the democracies in their struggle against German fascism ?" That is how the question in put by broad petty-bourgeois circles .... We reject this policy with indignation. Naturally there exists a difference between the political regimes in bourgeois society just as there is a difference in comfort between various cars in a railway train. But when the whole train is plunging into an abyss, the distinction between decaying democracy and murderous fascism disappears in the face of the collapse of the entire capitalist system. (21)
Trotsky was killed that year and was never to learn that the Western democracies did, contrary to his prediction, defeat fascism. In his 1939 reply to the Palestinian Trotskyists he had said that if the 'slightly senile' Allies were indeed capable of liquidating fascism, 'even if only for a limited period,' he would be wrong and those supporting the war effort would be right. (22) We don't know what he would now say, were he alive. All we know is that those who act in his name -- the Trotskyists of today -- stand fast in proclaiming that his pronouncements of 1939 and 1940 were absolutely correct.
But for the Jewish members and supporters of the old Trotskyism, it may well be that the movement's position of 'defeatism' was the first of several profound shocks that alienated them from the movement. Certainly, as more and more of the details of the Holocaust became known after the war, Trotsky's analogy to the 'difference in comfort between various cars in a railway train' appeared less and less felicitous.
Trotskyism after the 1967
War: Against Zionism and
In 1946, immediately after the Second World War, Tony Cliff wrote another pamphlet. He was now writing under his new name and for the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain. He castigated all the worldly powers of the Middle East: 'terroristic' Zionist organizations, 'British imperialism' and other 'foreign capitalists,' 'big Arab landowners,' 'the Arab bourgeoisie in Palestine,' the (Moscow-oriented) Communist Party of Palestine, etc. (23) If he expressed particular venom for Zionism, he did not at all spare 'the reactionary feudal leadership in the Arab national movement, and the anti-Jewish terror.' Here he mentions, in particular, the Mufti of Jerusalem and his Nazi connections. (24) In another publication of the same year, Cliff is even more specific: 'Who is the Mufti ? ... He was the organizer of attacks on Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-39...' (25)All this was vintage Trotskyism. The governments of the world, all the political parties and movements, whether left, right, or center, are thoroughly evil. Only the international revolutionary proletariat, yet to be awakened from its slumber by a yet-to-created mass Trotskyist party, can save the world from otherwise certain barbarism.
Trotsky himself, when asked in 1932 about the 1929 Arab riots in Hebron, had thought that they combined elements of an 'Arab national liberation (anti-imperialistic) movement ... combined with elements of Islamic reaction and anti-Jewish pogromism." (26)
Aside from Cliff's pamphlet and a very occasional article along the same line in publications such as The New International and Fourth International, international Trotskyism was in a sort of latency period after the war as far as the Jewish question is concerned. In this it did not differ markedly from the earlier periods of Trotskyism; Jewish matters had not been very important to it. And neither did the Trotskyist press pay very much attention to the new state of Israel. Not very much, that is, until after 1967, subsequent to which the topic became one of the major preoccupations of the movement.
The Trotskyists were not alone in this new turn. Following the Israel Arab war of 1967, the Soviet Union broke diplomatic relations with Israel. Together with the pro-Moscow Communist parties and associated movements around the world, the Soviets began a tremendous, newly intensified propaganda campaign against Israel and Zionism. (27) One of the major themes in this campaign was an alleged similarity, identity even, between Zionism and Nazism. At the same time -- and this became important for practical considerations -- Zionism was said to be a tool or puppet of 'American imperialism.' The Soviet Union found that a very hard line against Israel helped it enlist Arab and other third-world leaders, and much of the New Left in the industrialized countries as well, in its Cold War with the United States. Certainly by the early 1970s opposition to Zionism had become one of the axioms of correct left-wing, 'anti-imperialist' thinking.
There is a tradition in the Trotskyist movement, dating back to Trotsky's "Left Opposition" to Stalin in the 1920s, of seeking to outbid the official Communist Parties on the matter of leftism: we are more leftist than thou ! After 1967 anti-Zionism became almost part of the definition of being on the left, and, seen from this point of view, it is not altogether surprising that the Trotskyists generally developed a harsher and more uncompromising line on this question than did the official Communists.
Both pro-Moscow and Trotskyist Communists have always insisted, then as well as now, over and over in all pronouncements that deal even remotely with our topic, that they are, have been, and always will be staunch opponents of anti-Semitism. Their anti-Zionism, they never tire to say, is not at all directed against the Jewish group, let alone Jews as individuals. In fact, they say, it is Zionism that is really anti-Semitic: Zionism, like Nazism, preached that Jews are a foreign element in the countries of the diaspora; Zionists, like Nazis, tried to have Jews leave Germany in the Nazi period; Zionism as a political movement collaborated with the Nazis.
Critics of Soviet policies on Jews (besides
disputing the factual claims in such statements) have long maintained
that Zionist' is frequently used as a code word meaning 'Jew'
Soviet propaganda and that Soviet 'anti-Zionism' in fact amounts
to opposition to the Jewish people. The question now is whether
the anti-Zionism of post-1967 Trotskyism similarly contains elements
of anti-Semitism. Different readers will wish to answer this question
in different ways. Moreover, the Trotskyist movement is badly
divided into many competing tendencies and so we shall have to
pay attention to at least some of the more important ones among
One of the first indicators of a new Trotskyist
position came in yet another work by Tony Cliff, 'The Struggle
in the Middle East,' written in 1967 immediately after the Israel-Arab
war of that year. (28) Some of the material in it follows, word
for word, the text of 1946 that we have considered at the beginning
of this section. There is a condemnation of Zionism, hardly more
scathing than before. There is the obligatory condemnation of
'imperialism,' and so forth. But some of the material is quite
new. When attacking Israel, it is no longer a question of Israeli
rulers or Jewish capitalists but rather of Israel tout court.
Asking the question 'can colons be revolutionary ?', Cliff now
castigates Jewish workers for a failure to 'join forces with the
Arab anti-imperialist struggle.' (29) This is a new note for a
Trotskyist writer; until that point accusations were always levelled
against capitalists, Jewish or not, and not against workers, Jewish
The biggest change from his 1946 pamphlet is that in 1967 Cliff no longer makes any reference to Arab violence against Jews, to the role of the Grand Mufti during the Hitler period, or to any of the material that Trotsky, Cliff himself, and other Trotskyist writers had always used to balance their sharp criticism of Zionism. Cliff's suppression of the name of Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti and friend of Hitler, is something that he and other post-1967 Trotskyist writers have in common with the bulk of the newer left-wing critics of Israel. There is some irony in this rewriting of history. Trotsky himself had been victimized by a similar bowdlerization of history when the official chroniclers of the Soviet state sought to misrepresent his role in the Russian revolution. Trotsky's exposé of the 'Stalin School of Falsification' constitutes one of the most revealing texts on such propagandistic revision of history. (30)
The 'Usurers' of Abram Leon
The document that most clearly marks the turning point in our story was actually written a quarter of a century before the 1967 war -- between 1940 and 1942 -- in Nazi-occupied Belgium. The author of 'La Conception Matérialiste de la Question Juive' was twenty-two when the work was started, younger than the Marx of 'Zur Judenfrage.' He had been a member of Hashomer Hatsair, the left-wing Zionist youth group, but by the time he started this work he had abandoned Zionism to become active in the illegal Belgian Trotskyist organization. By the time he was twenty-six, in 1944, he was killed in Auschwitz by the Nazis. (31)
The book was first published by a Trotskyist group in Paris in 1946 and then in an English edition in Mexico in 1950. It seems to have been forgotten as fast as it was published and was unavailable for many years until it was resurrected by the Trotskyists after the 1967 war. In 1968 there was a French edition with a lengthy introductory essay by Maxime Rodinson which, among other things, attacked Zionism and Israel. In 1970 the English translation was republished by the Trotskyist 'Pathfinder Press' with a new introduction by Nathan Weinstock that included an even sharper attack on Zionism and Israel. This English edition has gone through a number of reprintings and appears in the current Pathfinder catalogue as of this writing (April 1990). It seems to be esteemed by most if not all of the current factions in international Trotskyism.
Leon starts with a 'materialist' assumption that he shares with Marx and other Marxists: it is not the Jewish religion, not a specific Jewish culture, not Jewish sentiments of any sort that determine the Jewish group but rather their social -- that is to say their economic -- role. If anything Leon is more radical than others in this determinism: 'We must not start with religion in order to explain Jewish history; on the contrary, the preservation of the Jewish religion or nationality can be explained only by the "real Jew," that is to say, by the Jew in his economic and social role.' (32)
From the very beginning of their history, according to Leon, Jews were traders. Even in antiquity they were hated for this. Later they became 'usurers,' and here he quotes Marx: 'both usury and commerce exploit the various modes of production. They do not create it, but attack it from the outside.' (33)
Throughout, Leon develops the notion of a socio-economic selection for membership in the Jewish group: Jewish individuals who choose not be merchants or usurers convert to Christianity; Christians who take on these occupations convert to Judaism. (34)
'Usury' is treated as the defining characteristic of the Jews beginning with the middle ages. Leon is most insistent that Jews entered this practice on their own volition and not at all as the result of outside forces: 'It is self-evident that to claim, as do most historians, that the Jews began to engage in lending only after their elimination from trade, is a vulgar error.'(35) And again:
The example of Poland again proves how infantile are the customary schema of Jewish historians who attempt to explain the commercial or usurious function of the Jews on the basis of persecutions. Who then had forbidden the Jews of Poland from becoming agriculturalists or artisans ? Long before the first attempts of the Polish cities to struggle against the Jews, all commerce and all banking in that country already lay in their hands.(36)
Leon's views here are very different from Trotsky's. When the latter found occasion to deal with Jewish occupational peculiarities -- the Jewish 'middle men,' money lenders, etc., in Rumania -- he saw the Jews as victims of circumstances rather than as the villains portrayed by Leon. (37) Neither Trotsky, nor indeed Lenin, ever accused the Jewish people of 'usury.'
Leon is also very insistent on what he considers to be the 'unproductive' nature of the Jew in the feudal period: 'The treasury of the usurer, in the feudal era, fulfills the role of a necessary but absolutely unproductive reserve .... The function of the banker is altogether different. He contributes directly to the production of surplus value. He is productive.' (38) And again he quotes from Marx: 'Usury centralizes money wealth, where the means of production are disjointed. It does not alter the mode of production but attaches itself to it as a parasite, and makes it miserable. It sucks its blood, kills its nerve ... ' (39)
Leon treats anti-Semitism, at least in the pre-capitalist era, as the natural result of Jewish behaviour through the ages:
Hatred for the Jews does not date solely from the birth of Christianity. Seneca treated the Jews as a criminal race. Juvenal believed that the Jews existed only to cause evil for other peoples. Quintilian said that the Jews were a curse for other people. The cause of ancient anti-Semitism is the same as for medieval anti-Semitism: the antagonism toward the merchant in every society based principally on the production of use values. (40)
And again: 'The transformation of all classes of society into producers of exchange values, into owners of money, raises them unanimously against Jewish usury whose archaic character emphasizes its rapacity.' (41)
Only when he comes to contemporary society is Leon ambivalent about anti-Semitism. On the one hand he castigates it as a device of the capitalist class in its struggle against the proletariat. But he also thinks that 'the historical past of Judaism exercises a determining influence on its social composition.' (42) Since Jews today are no longer dominantly usurers, anti-Semitism now is actually a myth, a piece of 'false consciousness' that is deliberately fostered by racists. Jewish usury is now no more than a 'vestige,' but this vestige does give 'a certain appearance of reality to the myth.' (43)
Jews no longer play a distinctive social role now, Leon finds, and he argues against 'petty-bourgeois ideologists [who] are always inclined to raise a historical phenomenon into an eternal category.' The disappearance of the Jewish people, he suggests, is a 'historical necessity.'(44) The problem cannot be solved in a humane way under capitalism. Zionism is no answer at all. The hope lies in the example of the Soviet Union which has shown that 'the proletariat can solve the Jewish problem' and where 'the "productivization" of the Jews has been accompanied by two parallel processes: assimilation and territorial concentration. Wherever the Jews penetrate into industry, they are rapidly assimilated. As early as 1926 there werehardly 40 percent of the Jewish miners in the Donetz Basin who spoke Yiddish. Nevertheless the Jews live under a regime of national autonomy; they have special schools, a Yiddish press, autonomous courts.' Leon also gives unqualified praise for the Biro-Bidzhan scheme, the Kremlin's Siberian answer to Zionism. (45)
Here again, Leon's differences with Trotsky are striking. For the last decade of his life, Trotsky missed no occasion for exposing and denouncing the Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union. Trotsky approved of the nationalized economy, for whose sake he continued to regard the country as a 'workers' state' albeit a degenerated one, but he always coupled such approval with a most scathing denunciation of the political dictatorship. He took the same approach to the Biro-Bidzhan scheme. (46)
Leon's book was written with verve, intelligence, and high seriousness, qualities which we shall find lacking in the Trotskyist writings on Jews a quarter of a century later. But there can be no question of scholarly or historical accuracy, any more than there was for Marx's 'Zur Judenfrage.' (47) Unlike Marx at the time of his pamphlet, Leon had had no benefit of a university education when he wrote this book. He had no control over the sources he cites, let alone the primary materials. Instead he used the traditional method of the autodidact pamphleteer: he scoured the secondary literature in search of statements in accord with his thesis; whenever he found something to his liking, he made careful citation of it in his book. Any thesis at all can be proven by this method, at least to the satisfaction of someone needing to grind a particular axe. Even Maxime Rodinson, the anti-Zionist French writer who is responsible for the new French edition of Leon's book in 1968 and who approves of its political implications, finds Leon's scholarship unacceptable. (48)
Leon was of course not the first to propose that the Jews should be exclusively defined by their putative economic role and, this role now being outdated, that they are bound to dissolve into the surrounding population. This line of reasoning was taken up by Karl Kautsky, (49) and more closely related to Leon in time, by the Austrian-born Jewish Communist Otto Heller.(50) Heller was a member or supporter of the Stalinist Communist Party of Germany, and was of course even more enthusiastic than Leon about the Soviet solution to the Jewish question. (Like Leon, Heller fell victim to the Nazis. (51) ) But there is a great difference in the tone of these two writers. Where Leon's is very moralistic in his condemnation of the Jews as 'usurers,' accusing them time and again of deliberately anti-social acts, Heller finds that Jews were 'forced' into such roles. (52) Except for Marx himself, I have found no Marxist writer, before the late 1960s, to be as disparaging of the Jewish people as Leon.
Despite these flaws in the book -- the unacceptable scholarship, the unprecedented anti-Jewish tone, the sharp deviations from Trotskyist positions on the Soviet Union -- the Trotskyist movement decided to resurrect it in 1968 and has ever after praised it as one of its most authoritative publications. It is important to note, however, that this praise is kept to overall evaluations of 'the authority on the Jewish question.' (53) Today's Trotskyists do not make the explicit allegation that 'usury' constitutes the historical heritage of the Jewish people; nor do they explicity repeat Marx's accusation of'dishonest trade practice', i.e. Schacher. (54)
The Jews of Israel: An Oppressor Nation
When the national convention of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States adopted its resolution on 'Israel and the Arab Revolution' in August of 1971, it was by far the largest Trotskyist grouping in North America and was also perhaps the most influential formation in the international Trotskyist movement. (55) No fewer than 1,100 delegates and visitors attended the convention. The resolution is probably the most carefully written exposition of the new Trotskyist thinking concerning Israel and Zionism. It solemnly and, for the movement authoritatively, establishes the new doctrine that the whole Jewish people of Israel -- not just the rulers or capitalists of the country -- are oppressors and must be considered enemies:
The right of oppressed nationalities to self-determination is a unilateral right. That is, it is the right of the presently oppressed Palestinians to determine unilaterally whether or not they and the Hebrew-speaking Jews will live in unitary state or in separate states. The Israeli Jews, as the present oppressor nationality, do not have that right. (56)
On the other hand,
... within this framework, the Hebrew-speaking Jews, a small minority within the Arab East, are guaranteed all democratic rights of a national minority, such as language, culture, religion, education, etc. If appropriate, this can include the right to local self-administration in Jewish areas, but not the unilateral right to form a militia or other armed force; any form of local self-administration must be subject to the approval of the central government of the unitary workers state. (57)
A key task of the Arab revolution, and the central task of the Palestinian struggle, is the destruction of the Israeli settler-colonial, expansionist, capitalist state. To accomplish this task requires, first of all, the revolutionary mobilization of the Arab masses; and secondly, within Israel, winning the largest possible support for the Arab revolution and neutralizing the opponents of the Arab revolution. (58)
Although 'the Jewish workers in Israel are
economically and socially privileged compared to the Arab workers,
both within Israel and the Arab East ... [and] have also been
entrapped by their support to Zionism,' (59) the party nevertheless
urges revolutionary socialists in Israel to win Jewish workers
away from Zionism and from the existing trade unions (Histadruth)
and to enlist them for help in the destruction of the Jewish state.
'This is the only perspective in the interest of the Jewish masses
as well.' (60)
Furthermore, 'our revolutionary socialist opposition to Zionism and the Israeli state has nothing in common with anti-Semitism, as the pro-Zionist propagandists maliciously and falsely assert.' (61)
This position is then developed as follows:
The situation of the Israeli Jews is essentially different from that of Jews in other parts of the world. The struggle against anti-Semitism and the oppression of Jews in other countries is a progressive struggle directed against their oppressors...' (62) [But] The Israeli Jews form an oppressor nationality of a settler-colonial character vis-a-vis the Arab peoples. ... From the point of view of the Leninist concept of the right of nations to self-determination, the key fact is whether the given nationality is an oppressed nationality or an oppressor nationality. ...(63)
There was a minority opinion in the party which went approximately as follows: we agree that Israeli Jews constitute an oppressor nation and have no right to self determination before the socialist revolution; nevertheless we think that after the revolution these Jews might well have a claim to a workers state of their own. (64) The majority decided that there should be no support for a Jewish state, either before or after the revolution. I have been informed that members of the minority were close to the thinking of the (Mandelite) European-based leadership of the international movement at the time, and their point of view may well be that of the Mandel group now (see below). (65)
The party issued a booklet of approximately 60,000 words to explain the resolution and its reasoning. It ranged over the entire history of Palestine and Israel. Nowhere is there mention of Arab violence against Jews, nor of Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni.
The Trotskyist Groups Today: Variety in Consensus
It would not be possible to make reference
to all the groups and grouplets in the world today that lay claim
to the mantle of Trotskyism. What follows is an account of the
larger Trotskyist formations in Britain and the United States;
they can be taken as a fair sampling of what
worldwide Trotskyism currently thinks about Jews and Israel.The positions taken by the (American) SWP in 1971 are universally accepted, with only minor variations, by all the groups except one. As we shall see, the largest of all groups, that lead by Ted Grant, is in partial but significant dissent.
It is convenient now to use the names of the respective leaders for labelling the various tendencies. Despite the fact that the philosophy of Marxism should dictate otherwise, Trotskyists, like other Communists, attach extraordinary importance to the personality of their leading comrades. Once a person is recognized as the leader of a given tendency, only death or excessively conspicuous dotage can displace him. This is of course in sharp contrast to the practice in most democratic socialist organizations.
All these Fourth Internationalist groups think of themselves as 'Marxist,' 'Leninist,' and 'Trotskyist,' these terms serving as totemic emblems of the claimed descent from the great leaders. All three labels were used even during Trotsky's lifetime. For lesser leaders now alive, however, totemic naming is sometimes taken as slightly disparaging. (66)Followers of James P. Cannon were called 'Cannonites' by followers of Max Shachtman, who in turn were known as 'Shachtmanites' to the former, and both of these terms bore slightly pejorative connotations. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, it is common in Trotskyist circles to refer to rival tendencies as followers of a particular leader. One convenience in this practice lies in the fact that the names of the groups themselves are often confusingly similar (the Socialist Workers Party in the United States is Barnesite while that of Britain is Cliffite, for example). The international allegiances of the various tendencies are certainly more conveniently traced through reference to the leading personalities. In any case, a nomenclature based on discipleship is the norm among writers on Trotskyism no less than among scholars of Hassidism.
The first and by far the most flamboyant of recent Trotskyist leaders is the now deceased Gerry Healy, dead in London on December 14, 1989 at the age of 76. His organization -- the small remnant now is called the Marxist Party, but in its heyday it was the Workers Revolutionary Party -- became known for its very strident anti-Israel activities mainly through the unceasing efforts of its most illustrious member, actress Vanessa Redgrave.
Under Healy's autocratic leadership, the Workers Revolutionary Party had for some years more influence in Britain than is usual for Trotskyist organizations. There was a group of actors around Vanessa Redgrave and her brother Corin, a daily newspaper News Line, a publishing company with contracts from the Libyan government, ties to Labour Party figures such as Ken Livingstone. (67) Such connections brought Healy to the attention of the larger public, but so did, with disasterous consequences, his personal and political extravagance. He was finally alienated from the bulk of his own membership and became subjected to extremely hostile criticism from all the other Trotskyist groups. (68)
These problems came to a head when it was revealed that during the 1970s and early 1980s Healy had received secret funds from Colonel Gaddafi's Libya, other Arab governments, and from the Palestine Liberation Organization. Some of the money from Libya, it was alleged, was payment for spying on prominent British Jews. There were also charges from party members that Healy had sexually exploited no fewer than twenty-eight young women in his organization. (69) The Trotskyist movement has never before, or after, known flamboyance of this sort. The upshot is that the Workers Revolutionary Party splintered into approximately eight competing successor groups after 1985, and 'Healyism' may now be considered as dead as its founder.
We have already seen how Tony Cliff changed his position since his earliest writings in 1938 in line with the changing attitudes of international Trotskyism. Cliff is now one of the most senior figures in the movement. He is not only the leader of the (British) Socialist Workers Party but also of an international network of groups that accept his theory of 'state capitalism' in the Soviet Union. Next to Ted Grant's Militant, Cliff's is the second largest Trotskyist group in Britain.
The SWP's extremely harsh opposition to Israel
is expressed in its recent pamphlet by John Rose, 'Israel: The
Hijack State. America's Watchdog in the Middle East.' (70) The
of this work is dominated by a melodramatic cartoon depicting an Uncle Sam who only barely restrains a ferocious, enormous attack dog. The dog has huge sharp teeth, wide-open mouth, eyes bulging; he is straining at the leash and ready to attack; his mouth alone is twice the size of Uncle Sam's head. The dog of course is Israel, and the cartoon is a faithful indicator of the tone of the whole pamphlet.
The pamphlet acknowledges the help of Tony
Cliff in the preparation of the pamphlet, and pays tribute to
other 'Jewish anti-Zionist' writers for having paved the way for
the present work, among them Abram Leon, Lenni Brenner, and Noam
Chomsky. These authors form the basic sources for most current
Trotskyist writings on Jewish matters and are frequently cited
in them. (71)
Rose accepts allegations from Brenner, Chomsky, and others, that there is a close similarity between Zionism and Nazism. (72)He also adopts a version of Israeli history, in sharp contrast to Trotsky's views and Cliff's earlier writings, according to which the Arabs were always victims and the Jews always aggressors. (73) The Mufti Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, who had been denounced by Cliff in his earlier writer for having organized 'attacks on Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936 39,' is now seen by Rose as having been insufficiently vigilant on behalf of Arab demands. (74) A similar criticism is made of today's Palestine Liberation Organization. (75)
Finally, Rose indicates his condemnation of the whole of the Israeli Jewish population, not just the government and capitalists, by speaking of a 'colon mentality amongst the mass of Israelis.' (76) He also claims that an opinion survey found only one percent of Israelis agreeable to a political settlement by withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. This claim is based on a tendentious misreading of a single poll and can actually be shown to be inaccurate by a large margin. Insofar as Marxists identify with the popular will, they often tend to overstate the extent of popular approval of their positions; by making the opposite claim here, Rose emphasizes his condemnation of the whole Israeli populace.
Jack Barnes has been the leader of the (American) Socialist Workers Party since 1972. Since the early 1980s, under his leadership, the party has undergone certain changes that have caused many of the old-time Trotskyists to resign from membership or be expelled. The party has been very severely criticized by other Trotskyist groups. (77) It still looks to Trotsky for inspiration, publishes his writings, and retains the general political orientation of Trotskyism; but on the other hand it has also expressed great admiration for third-world leaders and in particular for Fidel Castro. (As far as is publicly known, this admiration has remained completely unrequited). These views constitute a significant shift when compared to traditional Trotskyist attitudes.
Attacks on Israel and Zionism receive more emphasis from Barnesite than by the other groups. There are frequent articles in the party's American paper The Militant, the party sells the anti-Israel literature of others, and, above all, it has spent considerable resources of its own to bring out two elaborate anti-Israel pamphlets in recent years. (78) Leon's 'The Jewish Question,' among others, is suggested for further reading in both of them.
The general line is familiar: the 1971 SWP resolution is re-affirmed; the Arab struggle is to be supported 'unconditionally'; the Jews of Israel have no right to self-determination; Jewish workers should support the Arab struggle for the destruction of Israel; anti-Semitism in the rest of the world is to be fought. There are certain emphases distinctive to the Barnesites. While the other Trotskyists tend to criticize Arafat for being too conciliatory, the Barnesites, in line with their great admiration for third-world leaders, express confidence in the PLO and see Arafat's recent willingness to recognize Israel as a necessary temporary concession on the road to the desired eventual destruction of Israel.
The Belgian scholar Ernest Mandel (sometimes writing as Ernest Germain) is the leader of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. One of the three larger French Trotskyist groups acknowledges his leadership as do smaller groups in Britain, the United States, Israel (79), and other countries. Born in 1923, Mandel was active in the Trotskyist underground in Belgium during the Second World War where he met Abram Leon; he contributed the biographical sketch of Leon to the latter's The Jewish Question. (80) Mandel is now a well-known Marxist economist and is probably the only professional scholar of international repute to have become a top leader in any Trotskyist movement. (81)
Perhaps because of the scholarly achievements of its leader, the group's materials on Israel are often more thoughtful and perhaps more carefully written than those of its Trotskyist rivals. But they are also a great deal harsher and more irreconcilable, if that is possible, in their opposition to the Jewish state. Unlike the Barnesite praise and approval of Arafat, for example, Mandelites do not hesitate to criticize the PLO leader for being too conciliatory to Israel: 'George Habash [head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] was right when, addressing the leaders of the Palestinian right who are hegemonic in the PLO, he asked them: "Is this the time to make new concessions ?"' (82)
Not all Mandelite writings are designed to appeal to the thoughtful. For instance, the American Mandelite affiliate Socialist Action has issued a booklet by Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism. (83) Schoenman had been assistant to Bertrand Russell and Secretary-General of Russell's International War Crimes Tribunal. When Russell finally broke with Schoenman, he complained about Schoenman's general unreliability: '[he is] very often excessively and misleadingly incorrect and his quotations must always be verified.'(84)
Schoenman's booklet is fairly shrill: The Zionists were in cahoots with the Nazis; the Jews were always violent and sadistic in the history of Palestine; the Arabs were always victims of these Jews and of the imperialists generally. Schoenman reserves his harshest words for those who support the right of Israel to exist alongside an eventual Palestinian state: 'Even if the apartheid Israeli state were anchored on a ship off Haifa, it would be an outrage.' (85) And again: 'this specious employment of the principle of self-determination translates into a covert call for amnesty for Israel.' (86) The tone is very vindictive against the Jewish state.
Like Rose, Schoenman depends heavily on Brenner and Chomsky as sources in his footnotes. He also quotes various works by Israel Shahak, a chemist in Israel who has attacked not only Zionism but also the Talmud as the source of current Jewish malevolence. (87)
There is one tendency in contemporary Trotskyism that forms a substantial exception to our general story: Grantism, also known as the 'Militant tendency' in the British Labour party. Led by Ted Grant, it is a disciplined Trotskyist organization within Labour. Since such factions are technically forbidden by Labour rules, Militant sometimes maintains the fiction that it is no more than a newspaper and does not exist as an organized group. Actually it does much more than merely exist: it is extremely well organized and probably has more influence in Britain than any other Trotskyist organization has ever had in a Western country. It may have as many as ten thousand members; it has important influence in municipal councils such as Liverpool; two Labour MP's are said to be Militant members. Finally, Grantism also has small satellite grouplets in other countries. (88)
Ted Grant emigrated to Britain from South Africa some fifty years ago and has been active in the British Trotskyist movement ever since. Together with Tony Cliff and Ernest Mandel, he is among the few survivors of the pre-War Trotskyist movement who are still active in the movement today.
Militant's attitudes on Israel are significantly different from those of all other major Trotskyist groups. (89) The 'intifada' is to be supported, it is, in fact, 'a marvellous vindication of the Marxist view.' (90) However, the Arab governments are not be trusted at all because they are dominated by capitalists. The PLO is opposed because it conducts a national rather than the necessary class struggle. Its actions, including the terrorism directed against Israel, naturally repel Jewish workers. Jews as well as Arabs have legitimate security concerns. Finally,
A bridge can be built between Jewish and Arab workers by a movement which fought under the banner of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. Such a movement would fight for democratic rights and a national homeland for Palestinians, while directing class appeals to Jewish workers and troops. It would defend the class interest of Israeli workers, and support the right of the Israeli nation to its own self-determination, within a socialist federation.... Marxists take as their starting point the fact that the fortunes of Arab and Jewish workers are inextricably bound together and the key task, therefore, is to provide an alternative programme to all those dragging the region into the swamp. (91)
Nowhere in Militant's writings is there talk of Israeli Jews as an 'oppressor nation.' By placing its own anti-Zionism into a strictly class-struggle context, Militant has managed to retain attitudes that were dominant in the older, pre-1967 Trotskyism.
The question of whether the Trotskyist movement is anti-Semitic arises primarily if one thinks of anti-Semitism as an all-or-none phenomenon. But a moment's reflection shows that, like Marx himself, a movement may well show anti-Semitic aspects without thereby becoming totally anti-Semitic in its nature.
All Trotskyist groups declare their staunch opposition to anti-Semitism while being hostile to the Zionist enterprise. Most of the groups wish the destruction of Israel and, toward that end, support Israel's most irreconcilable enemies. In theory, most of the Trotskyist groups regard the Jews of Israel as an 'oppressor nation,' but this phrase does not occur very often in the Trotskyist propaganda. Beyond these positions there is a certain ambiguity about the image of the Jewish people. The groups promote and pay homage to the work of Abram Leon. But Leon's specific accusation -- that 'usury' constitutes the central phenomenon of Jewish history, in effect that Jew means Shylock -- is neither explicitly endorsed nor ever repudiated by today's Trotskyist writers.
It is not surprising now that the membership in the Trotskyist movement is no longer overwhelmingly Jewish, as once it was in countries like France, Britain, and the United States. The movement does have some very bitter Jewish individuals, for instance the authors of the pamphlets I have cited. But these men and women have broken all meaningful association with the Jewish public. Trotskyism did at one time have a modicum of such contact, but today it is profoundly separated and deeply alienated from the great majority of Jews in general and also from Jewish intellectuals in particular. In this it differs significantly from the Communism of both Lenin and Trotsky.
From the Jewish side, this alienation probably became inevitable once the strident anti-Israelism of the movement was clear. Beyond that, the Trotskyist refusal to endorse the Allies in the Second World War is no doubt a continuing irritant, as was the complete lack of interest of the movement in the fate of Soviet Jews in recent years.
As we have seen, there are various emphases within the overall Trotskyist movement in its approach to Jews and to Israel; furthermore not all sections of the movement treat the issue as very important. Many of the rank-and-file Trotskyists I have met are very open not only to Jewish individuals but also to discussions of the issues that are involved; the atmosphere is rarely one of hatred. On the other hand I have also encountered individual Trotskyists, often of Jewish origins themselves, for whom rancour -- anti-Jewish rancour -- seems to be the dominant theme. Such rancour, of course, is also found in some of the publications I have cited.
Our consideration of the Jewish question in
the contemporary Trotskyist movement points, I believe, to certain
inherent problems of the larger Marxist tradition from which this
movement has sprung. As an ideology of class struggle, Marxism has, since the days of its founders, had difficulties when faced with human problems that simply will not dissolve themselves into a class analysis. The relationship of the Marxist movements to the problem of nations and nationalism has been marked by opportunism -- Marx and the Marxists have taken sides in national disputes in accordance to what seemed the most expedient at the moment to a particular Marxist movement. This stance has been justified by Stalin:
The question of the rights of nations is not an isolated, self-sufficient question; it is part of the general problem of the proletarian revolution, subordinate to the whole, and must be considered from the point of view of the whole.... the national movement ... should be appraised not from the point of view of formal democracy, but from the point of view of the actual results obtained, as shown by the general balance sheet.... (93)
And it should be remembered that on this "national question" Stalin spoke as an orthodox Bolshevist, his earlier work on this topic having been praised not only by Lenin but also by Trotsky. (94)
I close with a more personal commentary. Much like the larger Marxist movement, Trotskyism since the days of the Old Man himself has been a peculiar mixture of opposing impulses. On the one hand, there are the truth-loving, democratic, humane, generous efforts of many individuals who have enlisted, often at considerable personal risk, for the cause of a better and more just society. Such impulses should have led the Trotskyists to take a more even-handed look at the Arab-Israel problem than they have in fact managed. They should also have been able to see through and dismiss the pathetic little anti-Semitic pamphlet by Abram Leon.
But like other Marxist movements, the Trotkyists have also been capable of rancour, resentment, narrow sectarianism, always-knowing-better. A variety of circumstances seem to have conspired to make these latter qualities predominant in their approach to the Jewish people during this last quarter century.
(1) The critical edition of Karl Marx's 'Zur Judenfrage' has
been published jointly by the Soviet and East German
(Socialist Unity) communist parties in Karl Marx Friedrich
Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), Erste Abteilung, Band 2, pp.
141-169 (text) and 648-667 (notes), Berlin, 1982. The
original edition of the essay is dated 1844.
(2) The question anti-Semitism in Marx and Marxism is treated
in Solomon F. Bloom, "Karl Marx and the Jews," in A Liberal
in Two Worlds, The Essays of Solomon F. Bloom, ed. by S. J.
Hurwitz and Moses Rischin (Washington: Public Affairs Press,
1968), pp. 93-104, essay originally published in 1942; Saul
K. Padover, Karl Marx (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978); Robert S. Wistrich, Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky
(London: Harrap, 1976); Julius Carlebach, 'Judaism,' in A
Dictionary of Marxist Thought, edited by Tom Bottomore et
al., (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), pp.
244-246; Edmund Silberner, Kommunisten zur Judenfrage
(Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1983). One essay that seeks
to exculpate Marx from charges of anti-Semitism is by
Wolfgang Fritz Haug, 'Antisemitismus in marxistischer
Sicht,' in Antisemitismus, ed. by Herbert A. Strauss and
Norbert Kampe, (Bonn: Bundeszentrale f. politische Bildung,
1985), pp. 234-255. But see his footnote no. 22, p. 239,
which finds some of Marx's expressions 'for us today,
unbearable.' A similar position is taken by Horace B.
Davis, Nationalism & Socialism (New York: Monthly Review
Press, 1967), pp. 71-73. Concerning other ethnic prejudices
of Marx and Engels, see Walker Connor, The National Question
in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 15, ff.
(3) The literature on the Trotskyist movement is vast, but
unfortunately much of it is severely marred by extreme
partisanship. On Trotsky and his thought, the best book is
probably that of Baruch Knei-Paz, The Social and Political
Thought of Leon Trotsky (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1978). The most complete and up-to-date biography of
Trotsky is by a scholar who is also a staunch Trotskyist:
Pierre Broué, Trotsky (Paris: Fayard, 1988). The most
satisfactory overall treatments of the Trotskyist movement,
though dealing mostly with Britain, are the two books by
John Callaghan: British Trotskyism. Theory and Practice
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984), and The Far Left in British
Politics (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987). See also the very
important book by Robert J. Alexander, Trotskyism in Latin
America (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1973).
(4) The relationship between Trotsky and the Jews is very
authoritatively treated in Knei-Paz, op. cit., pp. 533 to
555. Unless I cite other sources, the information of my
section here is documented in Knei-Paz's chapter. There is
also a book-length treatment which adds valuable details:
Joseph Nedava, Trotsky and the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish
Publication Soc. of America, 1971). Silberner, op. cit.,
and Wistrich, op. cit., also have chapters on this topic.
Finally, there is the new book by Albert Glotzer, Trotsky.
Memoir and Critique (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1989), who
devotes a chapter to Trotsky and the Jews and contributes
valuable personal memories.
(5) Silberner, op. cit., p. 64; Nedava, op. cit., p. 69; Zvi
Y. Gitelman, op. cit., p. 44.
(6) Leon Trotsky, 'Thermidor and Anti-Semitism,' The New
International, vol. VII, no. 5 (May 1941), pp. 91-94
(written in February, 1937).
(7) See Nedava, op. cit., pp. 130-132
(8) Ibid., p. 131.
(9) Telephone interview with Albert Glotzer, April 17, 1990.
Glotzer also paid tribute to James P. Cannon, a man with
whom he has fought bitterly within the Trotskyist movement,
as being totally incapable of utilizing anti-Semitism, no
matter how subtle.
(10) Knei-Paz, op. cit., 548-555; Nedava, op. cit., pp. 206-
(11) For a summary review of the Trotskyist
movement, from the point of view of one of its French founders,
Frank, The Fourth International: The Long March of the
Trotskyists (London: Ink Links, 1979), original French
edition Paris 1969.
(12) The most important of Trotsky's works on the Stalinist
dictatorship is The Revolution Betrayed (New York: Pioneer,
1945); first edition 1937. On 'totalitarianism,' see p. 279.
(13) This literature for the American movement is by now quite
large. While there is again no proof, it seems likely that
the situation was very similar in France and Britain. I
have consulted the following, among others: Irving Howe, A
Margin of Hope (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1982); Alan M.
Wald, The New York Intellectuals (Chapel Hill, NC:
University of North Carolina Press, 1987); Paul Jacobs, Is
Curly Jewish ? (New York: Vintage, 1973); John P. Diggins,
Up from Communism (New York: Harper, 1975); William L.
O'Neill, A Better World (New York: Simon and Schuster,
1982); William Barrett, The Truants (Garden City:
Doubleday, 1983); Sidney Lens, Unrepentant Radical (Boston:
(14) On Cliff, see Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson, The War
and the International. A History of the Trotskyist Movement
in Britain 1937 - 1949 (London: Socialist Platform, 1986),
p. 183 and passim.
(15) Personal correspondence from Tony Cliff to author, August
(16) L. Rock, 'Roots of the Jewish-Arab Conflict,' New
International, November 1938, reprinted in Hal Draper, ed.,
Zionism, Israel, & the Arabs (Berkeley: Independent
Socialist Clippingbooks, n.d. [1967 ?]), pp. 34-38.
(17) The evidence for this is impressionistic. Within the
last two years I have consulted both members and observers
of the movement in the United States, Britain, and France,
and found unanimity in this estimate.
(18) Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast (London: Oxford
University Press, 1963), pp. 131-151 and passim.; Pierre
Broué, op. cit., pp. 713-743.
(19) Gerhard Paul, 'Deutsche Mutter -- heim zu Dir !' (Köln:
Bund-Verlag, 1984), p. 267 and passim., Patrick von zur
Mühlen, 'Schlagt Hitler and der Saar' (Bonn: Neue
Gesellschaft, 1979), p. 146 and passim., Leon Trotsky,
Writings of Leon Trotsky [1933-34], Second Edition (New
York: Pathfinder, 1975), p. 135
(20) Leon Trotsky, 'A Step towards Social-Patriotism,' New
International, vol. VI, no. 7 (July 1939), pp. 207-210.
(21) Leon Trotsky, 'Manifesto of the Fourth International on
the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World Revolution,'
Writings of Leon Trotsky [1939-1940], Second Edition (New
York: Pathfinder, 1973), p. 221.
(22) Leon Trotsky, 'A Step Toward..,' p. 209
(23) T. Cliff, Middle East and the Cross Roads (London:
Revolutionary Communist Party, 1946).
(24) Ibid., p. 22
(25) T. Cliff, 'A New British Provocation in Palestine,'
Fourth International, September 1946, pp. 282-284
(26) Nedava, op. cit., p. 202.
(27) For one account among many, see Walter Laqueur, The
Struggle for the Middle East (London: Pelican Books, 1972),
(28) Tony Cliff, The Struggle in the Middle East (London:
Socialist Review: 1967)
(29) ibid., p. 2
(30) Leon Trotsky, The Stalin School of Falsification (New
York: Pathfinder Press, 1971), original edition 1937.
(31) I take biographical details concerning Leon and
bibliographic information concerning his book from the
following: Maxime Rodinson, Cult, Ghetto, and State
(London: Al Saqi Books, 1983), pp. 68-69 (this is an English
translation of Rodinson's 1968 introduction to the French
edition); and from the following editions of the book:
Abraham [sic] Léon, La Conception Matérialiste de la
Question Juive (Paris: EDI, 1968); Abram Leon, The Jewish
Question. A Marxist Interpretation (New York: Pathfinder,
(32) The Jewish Question, p. 66. All references to Leon's work are to the New York edition.
(33) ibid., p. 77
(34) ibid., pp. 121, 139, 140, 141, 243-44.
(35) ibid., p. 137
(36) ibid., p. 138, note 12
(37) Knei-Paz, op. cit., pp. 543, f.
(38) Leon, op. cit., p. 143, emphasis in original.
(39) ibid., p. 150, emphasis in original.
(40) ibid., p. 71
(41) ibid., p. 152.
(42) ibid., p. 236
(43) ibid., pp. 236-237.
(44) ibid., p. 259
(45) ibid., pp. 263-264.
(46) Knei-Paz, op. cit., p. 550-551
(47) For a recent scholarly treatment of Jews
and 'usury,' see
Joseph Shatzmiller, Shylock Reconsidered. Jews,
Moneylending, and Medieval Society (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1990).
(48) Rodinson, op. cit.
(49) Edmund Silberer, Sozialisten zur Judenfrage
Colloquium, 1962), pp. 220-226 and passim.
(50) Otto Heller, Der Untergang des Judentums;
Judenfrage/ Ihre Kritik/ Ihre Lösung durch den Sozialismus,
Second Edition (Vienna and Berlin: Verlag für Literatur und
(51) Regarding Heller, see Silberner, Kommunisten
(52) Heller, op. cit., p. 56.
(53) This description comes from John Rose,
Israel: The Hijack
State. America's Watchdog in the Middle East (London:
Socialist Workers Party, 1986) p. 56; emphasis in the
original. Another Trotskyist group, the Spartacist League
of the United States, has just published another endorsement
of Leon's book (Workers Vanguard, June 29, 1990, pp. 7-8).
Here again there is no mention of Leon's actual thesis.
(54) When Marx used this particular term (Karl
pp. 164), he borrowed from the vocabulary of anti-Semitism.
Ultimately derived from the Hebrew sakhar, commerce,
Schacher became in the nineteenth century a very specific
term of abuse: 'Schacher .... Kleinhandel, besonders
gewinnsüchtiger Hausirhandel, gewöhnlich von den Juden, in
verächtichem Sinne gebraucht' Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm,
Deutsches Wörterbuch (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1893), vol. 8, p.
(55) The resolution, together with related
contained in Gus Horowitz, Israel and the Arab Revolution.
Fundamental Principles of Revolutionary Marxism, (New York:
Socialist Workers Party, 1973). The resolution itself is on
(56) ibid., p. 10
(58) ibid., pp. 8-9.
(59) ibid., p. 9
(60) ibid, p. 10
(61) ibid, p. 11
(62) ibid., p. 13-14
(63) ibid., p. 14, emphasis in the original
(64) The minority point of view is given on
pp. 43, ff. in the
(65) Communication from Alan Wald, July 21,
Rotschild, one of the three signers of the minority
resolution, later edited a book of interviews with the
leader of this international tendency: Ernest Mandel,
Revolutionary Marxism Today (London: NLB, 1979).
(66) Even with the lesser lights, a touch of
not uncommon: '... when the international movement was
shattered after the war, it was Grant's analysis and
understanding that maintained and developed the thread of
ideas that had continued, unbroken, from Marx and Engels
through Lenin and Trotsky.' From the dust cover of Ted
Grant, The Unbroken Thread. Selected Writings of Ted Grant.
(London: Fortress Books, 1990).
(67) Jewish Chronicle (London), March 18, 1983;
Redgrave, To Be a Redgrave (New York: Simon & Schuster,
1982), pp. 195-210 and passim. See also Sunday Telegraph
(London) of September 13, 1981, which details the ties to
Ken Livingstone through Healy's printing concern Astmoor
Litho Ltd. After Healy's death, Livingstone, now Labour
M.P., spoke at a public meeting in tribute of Healy on
March 4, 1990. See Bulletin, May 11, 1990.
(68) Alan Thornett, The Battle for Trotskyism
Ltd., 1979); also 'Healyism Implodes. Documents and
Interviews on the WRP's Buried History,' Spartacist (New
York), no. 36-37, Winter 1985-86. Even after Healy's death,
other Trotskyist groups heaped abuse on him. For a sampling,
see Revolutionary History, vol. 3, no. 1, Summer 1990, pp.
31-33 and 53-54.
(69) Sunday Telegraph (London), September 13,
Times (London), February 7, 1988; a full report concerning
the Arab money, compiled by his rivals in the movement,
appeared in Workers News (London), no. 8, April 1988, pp. 6-
(70) John Rose, op. cit.
(71) On Chomsky, see Werner Cohn, The Hidden
Alliances of Noam
Chomsky (New York: Americans for a Safe Israel, 1988), and
the references cited therein. Concerning Brenner, I find
myself in agreement with the views expressed by Walter
Laqueur, 'The Anti-Zionism of Fools,' New Republic, November
2, 1987, pp. 33-39.
(72) John Rose, op. cit, p. 36 and passim.
(73) Ibid., p. 40 and passim.
(74) Ibid., p. 45
(75) Ibid., p. 56
(77) For very detailed but hostile descriptions
Barnesism, the following, by rival Trotskyist groups, are
indispensable: The Socialist Workers Party: An Obituary
(New York: Spartacist Publishing Co., 1984); 'The SWP -- A
Strangled Party,' Spartacist (New York), no. 38-39, Summer
1986; The Gelfand Case, A Legal History of the Exposure of
U. S. Government Agents in the Leadership of the Socialist
Workers Party, two volumes (Detroit: Labor Publications,
(78) David Frankel and Will Reissner, Israel's
War Against the
Palestinian People (New York: Pathfinder, 1983); this
pamphlet had a second printing in 1988. Also Fred Feldman
and Georges Sayad, Palestine and the Arabs' Fight for
Liberation (New York: Pathfinder, 1989)
(79) The Mandelites currently seem to be the
to maintain a small group in Israel. It is known as the
Revolutionary Communist Party, is led by Michael
Warschawski, and publishes a monthly Matspen-Marxisti.
Source: Letter from Michael Warschawski dated April 21,
(80) Abram Leon, op.cit, pp. 9-26
(81) For some biographical detail on Mandel,
introduction by Jon Rothschild to Ernest Mandel, op. cit.
(82) Salah Jaber, 'Where is the PLO going ?',
Viewpoint, #156, February 6, 1989, pp. 5-13
(83) Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of
Francisco: Socialist Action, 1988)
(84) Quoted in Ronald W. Clark, The Life of
(London: Jonathan Cape, 1975), p. 635
(85) Schoenman, op. cit. p. 88
(86) op. cit, p. 89
(87) Israel Shahak, 'The Jewish Religion and
its Attitude to
non-Jews,' Khamsin #8 (1981), pp. 27-61; #9 (1981), pp. 3-
49. For a criticism of Shahak, see Immanuel Jakobovits, 'A
Modern Blood Libel -- L'Affaire Shahak,' Tradition, vol. 8,
no. 2, Summer 1966, pp. 58-65.
(88) Grantism is the only Trotskyist group
for which we have
an excellent book-length report: Michael Crick, The March
of Militant (London: Faber and Faber, 1986). For
information on the MPs, see pp. 77 and 213.
(89) A very small Trotskyist splinter group
in Britain, the
Socialist Organizer led by Sean Matgamna (John O'Mahony),
has taken approximately the same position as Militant. See
Arabs, Jews and Socialism (London: Workers' Liberty, n.d.).
(90) Peter Jackson, 'West Ban revolt -- The
Militant International Review, Number 37, Summer 1988, pp.
(91) ibid., p. 33
(92) For a review of this history of opportunism,
Connor, op. cit., chapters 1-2.
(93) Joseph Stalin, Foundations of Leninism
International Publishers, 1939, original Russian edition
1924), pp. 79-81.
(94) Leon Trotsky, Stalin (New York: Harper
& Brothers, 1941),
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