After the Autumn of the Patriarch (was Re: New Economy, Mid East)

James Heartfield Jim at
Wed Oct 18 09:07:58 PDT 2000

The debate here, surely, is an echo of the 'unconditional support' for anti-imperialist movements -an imperative for socialists working in the imperial state set out by Lenin.

The argument is reasonable enough, except that we do not really live in the same conditions of positive movements of national liberation. Arafat's position - for a Western solution in the Middle East - indicates the limitations of his anti-imperialism.

The escape clause in Lenin's formula is that you are not obliged to support a movement that is not an anti-imperialist movement. Also, there's nothing in their about not criticising, only that one ought not to set limits upon how to fight imperialism (Lenin had in mind those opportunists in England who refused to support the Irish nationalists because they weren't socialists).

I think one still ought to be cautious about demonising Arafat, who, for all his flaws, is certainly no worse a political leader than those in Israel, Washington or the Houses of Parliament. If their offices were bombed by helicopter gunships we would never have heard the end of it.

In message <p04330103b60fcf2a7d53@[]>, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> writes
>Carrol Cox wrote:
>>I think Yoshie's point can be underlined. The question is not what is the
>>proper solution for the Paletinians to pursue -- that is their decision.
>You say this often, but are the directly involved the only ones who
>have anything interesting or useful to say about a situation? This
>sounds like the standpoint thinking that most Marxists identitarians
>usually rail against. What about solidarity? What about our own
>implication in the situation of Palestines and the imperial strength
>of israel? If Arafat is really a bogus leader, shouldn't we point
>that out to an audience that might not know that? I suspect
>Palestinians have plenty interesting to say about what policy the
>U.S. should pursue. Is it only metropolitan leftists that are under
>this gag rule?

-- James Heartfield

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