Nick Cohen, Colin Shindler and left antisemitism

June 10, 2012

Trotsky: heartfelt echoThe idea that only fascism is the cause of hate and that Communism stands apart from it is naive and ignorant. There are other reasons to hate someone other then their race. I could hate you because of the brand of shoes you wear and given power, your shoes could be the means of which I will attempt to divide you from a populist mob rampage or in the back rooms of a dictatorship. The great irony that we have accepted RACE as being the only prejudice humans can have… and yet it’s an artificial construct that can be taylor made for the elite. Of course you can change your shoes… or you can change your philosophy or religion… but what if you really liked those shoes?

…In the early 20th century, Eastern European Jews had two love affairs – with Communism and with Zionism. But the Communists betrayed them. The Hungarian intellectual, Arthur Koestler, compared his time as a Communist with the deception practised on Jacob when he slept with the ugly Leah instead of Rachel.
Early Communists didn’t want to be bothered with Jewish issues which, they thought, would be automatically resolved under socialism. By the 1920s, Stalin was using antisemitism to defeat his opponents in the party, many of whom were Jewish. One, Karl Radek, asked: “What’s the difference between Moses and Stalin? Moses took the Jews out of Egypt. Stalin takes them out of the Communist Party”.
By the 1930s, Stalin’s great opponent, Trotsky, had come to believe that Jews might well not assimilate after all. He began to speak of “the Jewish nation”. A socialist Zionist who met him in 1937 thought her words “penetrated deep into his heart, that he was glad to hear about a world from which he had dissociated himself”. She thought that “he was listening not like a man who placed himself above all nationality,” and that, “our great idea found an echo in his heart”. Trotsky’s biographer and disciple, Isaac Deutscher, a self-confessed “non-Jewish Jew”, later admitted that, had he urged Jews in the 1930s to go to Palestine, many, including his own family, would have been saved.
The non-Communist left was more sympathetic to Zionism. Ralph Miliband, father of Ed and David, insisted, in a long correspondence with a Belgian socialist, Marcel Liebman, that his kind of socialism did not preclude recognition of Jewish identity. “What right do the Jews have to be in Palestine… Their right stems from the fact that the world is what it is”. Perhaps there is no better answer.
(MORE)

(Simply Jews)stumbled across this, sort of, on the Standpoint website. It’s Nick Cohen’s review of Colin Shindler’s “Israel and the European Left”. Actually, (Simply Jews) was chasing down a link in a comments thread elsewhere, but what matters is that (Simply Jews) found it!(Nick Cohen, Colin Shindler and left antisemitism)
Cohen starts off with a set of general comments on the original ideological links between Communism and Zionism, before they became, in his own words, separated at birth. Then he comes to Shindler’s book. Almost his first direct comment on it is the following: “If [Colin Shindler] has not produced a secret history, then it is a history of a secret in plain view; an account of facts that are available but not discussed. After (Brian Goldfarb) interviewed him at Jewish Book Week, members of the audience said they had never before heard anyone examine the racist strain in left-wing thinking, even though it was there from the beginning.”
Of course, the readers of this and similar sites will not be at all surprised that this strain, as Cohen puts it, in left-wing thinking. If we weren’t aware, we wouldn’t be here in the first place. Anne’s opinions (another Israel based website, in English) was kind enough to post a longish article By (Brian Goldfarb) on the Jewish Book Week, including his reactions to the Shindler/Cohen session.

(How the Left Turned Against the Jews | Standpoint)”You cry out against Jewish capital, gentlemen?” cried one. “You are against Jewish capital and want to eliminate the stock manipulators. Rightly so. Trample the Jewish capitalists under foot, hang them from the street lamps, stamp them out.”
Ruth Fischer sounded like a Nazi. She used the same hate-filled language. She wanted to murder Jews. But Hitler would never have accepted her. Fischer was a leader of the German Communist Party. She made her small differences of opinion with the Nazis clear when she went on to say that her audience should not just trample Jewish capitalists to death, but all capitalists.
Unconcerned by the contradiction, Hitler said the Jews were at once a “Judaeo-Bolshevik” conspiracy and a capitalist conspiracy. In Fischer’s case, he was half right. The rabble-rouser who wanted to hang Jewish capitalists was a Jewish Communist, the sister of Hanns Eisler, who wrote music for some of Brecht’s early plays. Eisler and Brecht fled the Nazis in 1933. A sense of self-preservation triumphed over ideology, and they found permanent sanctuary in America rather than in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Hanns could not have been surprised when the House Committee on Un-American Activities demanded his deportation. He was a prominent Communist composer who worked for Hollywood, which the American Right considered a nest of reds. Eisler was perhaps more surprised to discover that his own sister Ruth was a witness for the prosecution when the McCarthyites arraigned him in 1947. Supporters of Stalin had denounced her as a “Left oppositionist” Trotskyist. She responded by not only going over to the “capitalist camp” but by providing evidence against Hanns, and against a second brother, Gerhart, who was a leading agent in the Comintern.(MORE)

(How the Left Turned Against the Jews | Standpoint)Shindler is a properly impartial historian, but when his beliefs show through he reveals himself to be a social democrat rather than an Israel-firster or man of the Right. The left-wing press won’t like it for the same reason Caliban did not like the sight of his face in the mirror.(MORE)Beyond the ideological divide lies the almost taboo nature of Shindler’s subject. Conventional wisdom does not regard Communism with the same abhorrence as fascism, even though if you want to be an accountant about it and add up the skulls of the dead, you will find that the Communists murdered many more people than the fascists did, began murdering before fascists came to power and carried on murdering after the fascists had gone. Yet few can bring themselves to see fascism and Communism as moral equivalents. Even Robert Conquest, who mapped the crimes of Stalin, and had been mocked by the know-nothing Left of his day as a Cold War fantasist, said he thought the Nazis were worse than the Communists. He couldn’t explain why, they just felt worse.

(How the Left Turned Against the Jews | Standpoint)The movements for Jewish self-determination and Russian Communism were twins separated at birth. The First Zionist conference met on August 27, 1897, to discuss the escape from anti-Semitic Europe to Palestine. The General Jewish Labour Bund held its first conference in Vilnius on October 7, 1897, to organise the Russian Empire’s Jews in a united socialist party. The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, from which the Bolsheviks split, held its first conference in March 1898. Naturally, the Bund sent delegates. For liberal and left-wing Europeans of the late 19th century, no regime was more repellent than Tsarist autocracy, and nothing better symbolised its reactionary nature than its anti-Semitic pogroms. Jews responded to the terror by keeping their Jewish identity and joining Jewish socialist movements, such as the Bund, or by becoming entirely assimilated Communists, as Trotsky and many others did.(MORE)

(How the Left Turned Against the Jews | Standpoint)The coincidences of history do not end there. On November 2, 1917, Arthur Balfour sent his declaration to Baron Rothschild that the British Empire would allow the Jewish people to find a home in Palestine “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”. On November 7, 1917, the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace.(MORE)

(How the Left Turned Against the Jews | Standpoint)As so often the theory was one thing and the practice another. The belief that Communism was better than Nazism stops us seeing that the Bolshevik Revolution was an insane idea from its inception. A “vanguard” party, composed of a tiny band of professional revolutionaries, could hold on to power only by terrorising the subject population. The Bolsheviks had to crush independent Jewish organisations, as they had to crush all other independent organisations. Yet even before the Bolsheviks produced a left-wing variant of the Nazi conspiracy theory, the Jews were a special case in the old Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks recognised other minorities as minorities with homelands. They never said that there should be a Jewish homeland in their empire. Socialist Zionism was a particular threat to the new regime. If Jews succeeded in building a socialist state in Israel, it would be a rival. Lenin set a loyalty test. Before he came to power, he purged the Communist movement of supporters of the Bund. The only Jews he permitted to remain were Jews who were so thoroughly assimilated that they were barely Jews at all.(MORE)

(Trotsky: heartfelt echo By Colin Shindler, Continuum, £17.99 Review: Israel and the European Left | The Jewish Chronicle By Vernon Bogdanor) Unlike Lenin, Stalin was an anti-Semite and understood the uses of irrational hatred. His crimes took the forms of the sins of omission and commission. The omission was not to see Nazism for what it was, and ally with it in the Hitler-Stalin pact of August 1939. It remains one of the most hypocritical and stupid acts in the annals of diplomacy, where examples of hypocrisy and stupidity are not hard to find. Throughout the 1930s Communist writers, poets and propagandists had denounced fascism and urged a popular front against the Hitlerian menace. Then in August 1939 Stalin stood on his head and announced a Soviet reconciliation with Nazi Germany so they might partition Poland between them. Stalin believed in Hitler. Solzhenitsyn speculated in The First Circle that Hitler was the only man he ever really trusted. The complete surprise Hitler achieved when he invaded an unprepared Soviet Union in 1941 suggests that Solzhenitsyn was right. By signing the pact, the Soviet Union agreed to hand over the Jews of western Poland to the Nazis. Although conventional historians lazily say that the pact shocked a generation of leftists, Shindler points out that membership of the British Communist Party actually rose after the tyrants had cut a deal, and hardly anyone worried about the fate of Polish Jewry. Those who had shouted loudest about the dangers of fascism from 1933 to 1938 were as willing as Chamberlain and Halifax to appease it in 1939.(MORE)

It’s gotta be the shoes


The 5 Biggest Lies about Liberalism

September 28, 2010


Daniel Greenfield
5. Multiculturalism – If you haven’t seen the billboards yet, liberals love multiculturalism, they embrace all races and religions because they believe in diversity. True? Nope.
Liberals follow the left’s paradigm of waging class warfare. Their interest in minorities extends only to enlisting some disenfranchised groups in their class warfare. Contrary to all the multicultural billboards, liberals are primarily interested in unsuccessful minorities, because they can frighten them, exploit them and farm them as voting blocks. Successful minorities such as Asians, Indians and Jews are wanted only as window dressing. And get the short end of the stick when a real issue comes up. Multiculturalism is really only class warfare disguised as opposition to bigotry. Take away all the historical revisionism about the Democratic party’s ugly civil rights history and the empty slogans about diversity, and what you have left is naked political opportunism. The Democratic party trafficked in racism when it suited them (and still does) and dons the halo of tolerance when it suits them now. The left was equally at home working both sides of the street, and the views of great socialists from Jack London to Karl Marx on race, differed little from those of the Nazi party.
Multiculturalism isn’t a philosophy, it’s a political organization tactic to bring the groups they consider part of the working class under one umbrella. It’s the same old class warfare organizational tactics applied to race and ethnicity. The goal of these tactics is not empowerment, but to create a voting bloc of people who have been convinced that they’re doomed to helplessness, without the leadership of the left “fighting” on their behalf.
Liberals can still be and often are bigots. Their bigotry is just informed by political necessity. As a bonus, having the “diversity” brand allows them to describe the opposition as bigots, without ever being called out for their own bigotry.
4. Feminism – We all know of course that liberals are the biggest feminists out there, except when they’re running against a woman. Or when a woman accuses their candidate of rape or sexual harassment.
Like multiculturalism, owning the feminist brand has been convenient. And it was easy enough to manage once feminism became a wholly owned product of academia, funded by liberal groups like the Ford Foundation. This brand of feminism has as much to do with equal rights for women, as African Studies have to do with equal rights for African-Americans. They’re basically little more than ways to repackage the agenda politics of the far left in identity colors. That way socialism can be dressed up as a civil rights agenda, and opposition to it becomes racism or sexism.
That leads us to the absurd spectacle of academic feminists declaring that successful female candidates who don’t share their politics are not feminists, but male candidates who do, are. Dig down to their real definition of feminism, and it turns out to be liberalism.
None of this has anything to do with women, just as multiculturalism has nothing to do with race. Take away the disguises, and you end up with the same old ideology marketed to target groups as a political organizing tactic. It’s no different than selling cereal, except the cereal is red and comes with a few dozen textbooks.
Liberals are not interested in empowering women, except to work for them or vote for them. There is no philosophical commitment here to equality for women, only a sales pitch for liberalism.
3. Friends of the Poor – We know liberals are against poverty, right? Otherwise why all that talk of making the rich pay their fair share. But if you actually look at socialist countries, the poor aren’t exactly coming out ahead. What’s the problem?
The problem is that liberals are not into enriching the poor, but removing what they consider the upper class, and turning over control of the economy to themselves. But a centrally planned economy leads to more poverty, not less. Take away the ability to go up the economic ladder, and how can poverty end?
It can’t. But ending poverty was never the idea. Wealth redistribution is a neat catchphrase, but the reality is that the rich and the middle class are purged to make way for a new rich and middle class composed of party members. Their brand of equality is not about helping the poor, but putting themselves in charge and imposing an artificial standard of fairness in order to build a perfect society. Before Communism came to Russia, the poor begged on the street. After Communism, begging was illegal and the poor were deported to labor camps as parasites. Because once society is made equal, anyone who’s still unequal must be an exploiter or a parasite.
You can’t end poverty, except through opportunity, and that’s the one thing their social system doesn’t offer. It’s why America under Obama is poorer than ever. Jobs aren’t created by confiscating wealth, but by encouraging free enterprise. But when the goal isn’t to create jobs, but to create a static society where everyone knows their place, then their way is best. All totalitarian movements are at their heart, reactionary. Even if they’re cloaked in red t-shirts and rock concerts. And reactionary movements are often spearheaded by an upper class trying to deny social mobility to the working class. And when you take a magnifying glass to liberalism, that’s exactly what it looks like.
Of course this isn’t an original observation. Orwell’s Oceania in 1984 worked on the same exact principle. Orwell was warning about the rise of a totalitarian left with no regard for human rights. But it’s already here.
2. Pro-Peace – The left is peaceful in the same way that active volcanoes are gentle, and tsuanmis are a good way to cool off after a long summer day.
Look around the world at the left of center regimes, and you come away with a horror show of constant conflicts. (The left explains this as the result of vast conspiracies by reactionary forces against the freedom loving peoples of the world and their friendly dictators.) And then count how many liberals wear t-shirts with King or Gandhi on them, and how many wear t-shirts with Che on them.
If you read the official talking points, you would have no idea that America fought most of its wars in the 20th century under Democratic Presidents. Or that the enthusiastic revolutionaries of the USSR and China between them accounted for more dead, than would have been produced by a nuclear war.
But being pro-peace is yet another talking point. The left is not pro-peace, it’s against wars being fought by their political opponents. Take a measure of how much coverage anti-war protests received under Bush, and how much coverage they receive under Obama. The war hasn’t gone away, even the protests haven’t entirely gone away (mostly by the same Marxist-Trotskyist groups that were running them all along) but the coverage has gone down the rabbit hole.
Then let’s take a walk back to WW2, when American liberals went from being anti-war when Hitler invaded Poland, to being pro-war when he invaded the Soviet Union. The Trotskyists of the era remained anti-war and the Communist party in the United States helped the authorities deal with them. Because suddenly war was in their interest.
The liberal position on war is that they are against it, unless they are for it. And then when it’s over, they are against it, because it didn’t accomplish all their goals. Liberals were against WW2, before they were for it, but then they were against it, once those GI’s weren’t wearing down German tanks anymore, but blocking Soviet tanks from “liberating” the rest of Europe. Liberals were for Israel, when England was against Israel, but they were against Israel, when Arab tanks forwarded from the Soviet Union were being blown up by the damned Israelis.
An easy way to sketch out the liberal position on a war, is to check the political ideology of the government fighting it and how it accords with their own politics, the political ideology of the enemy they are fighting against, and the effect on any left wing regimes. Add all that up and you get the liberal position on the war. The further left you go, the higher the bar goes.
Liberals will support wars by liberal governments against developed countries they consider reactionary. They will generally oppose all wars by conservative governments. They will generally oppose wars by liberal governments against undeveloped countries, sometimes even when those countries are reactionary, unless the government conducting the war is far to the left.
There are ideological complications and rivalries in the mix. There’s also the human factor. Some American liberals did support the American invasion of Afghanistan initially, but the left never did. A handful of liberals actually thought the American program was within their own ideology, but they were primarily British, and were quickly ostracized for it. On the other hand, George Galloway, who openly supported Saddam, is still considered a hero of the people. Because as bad as Saddam worse, the general agreement is that America was worse, because it represents capitalism and people with jobs. Which are not things the left likes.
And there you have it. The left’s commitment to peace. Or rather a commitment to anti-war rallies, when the war in question doesn’t seem to be in their interest, and isn’t being waged to protect a left-wing country, or a group that the left is allied with.
1. Patriotic – Every now and then liberals like to claim that they’re patriotic. Usually around an election. Of course they’re not patriotic in the “wear a flag on your lapel” kind of way. They’re more patriotic in the “point out everything wrong with your country and then threaten to move to Canada if you don’t win the election” way. Which is fine. America has seen patriots like that before. They used to wear green coats and moved to Canada, right around the time the last British troops left New York on Evacuation Day.
Occasionally when in power liberals will actually try to brand their opponents as traitors or unpatriotic, but like a dog trying to talk, it never sounds right. Mostly they have to defend themselves against charges of being unpatriotic, particularly when they’ve been caught attending a church whose rousing hymn is “God Damn America”.
It’s a challenge being patriotic, when you don’t believe in American Exceptionalism, or even the value of the Nation-State. When you think that the world would run better if everyone just listened to what the UN tells them to do. When you think that its history is the story of how rich Europeans murdered all the natives and built smokestacks over their graves in order to plunder South America of its fruit– being patriotic really requires contortionism that would put any circus acrobat to shame.
That’s probably why liberals don’t do the patriotism thing very well. It’s hard to spit in someone’s face one day and then hug them the next. For liberal politicians, patriotism is one of those unfortunate election season things they try to get through as quickly as possible. And hope no one asks them if they believe in the Constitution.
When they’re forced to, they will say something vague about America’s heritage of tolerance, and imply that the WW2 GI’s were fighting for socialism, civilian trials for terrorists and opposition to tort reform. They’re most comfortable around the Civil War and WW2. Anything outside that comfort zone makes them itchy. They will pose next to Old Glory when they have to, if they have a relative who fought in a war, they will bring him up. If he’s not dead, they will drag him out. If he is dead, they will dig him up. But just don’t ask them any questions about the application of their vaunted patriotism. Or why if they’re so patriotic, they can’t actually get behind their country in wartime.
Of course they will answer that true patriotism means undermining your country in wartime. Which means that Benedict Arnold was the original patriot.


Take away these 5 and what do you have left? Nothing but a political ideology that seeks power and will use any rhetoric and trick to get it
. And that is the real face of modern day liberalism.