May 1

For Workers Defense against Ethnic Violence: Statement of Counter Attack Editorial Committee on the Gaza Genocide and the October 7th Massacre

As Marxists we start from the affirmation of the primacy of the class perspective. That is to say the perspective which takes the constitution of the broadest possible unity of wage workers around their common interest in the abolition of the wage relation as the substance and objective of political action. We categorically refuse any division of workers between “progressive” and “reactionary” ethnic groups or endorsement of the collective punishment of certain ethnic groups within the working class on the grounds of a supposed “collective responsibility” for reactionary nationalist crimes. Indeed, the spurious idea of a “collective responsibility” of the German people for the crimes of National Socialism was a hallmark of Stalinist opportunism which served to justify a criminal practice of ethnic cleansing in post war Eastern Europe1. These bogus allegations against the German working class and people were justly condemned by the proletarian left at the time2.

Unfortunately today, in a time of historic defeat for the working class, these divisive ideas have lost none of their appeal. In such a context attempts to justify reprisal massacres by ethnic militias or genocidal population transfer campaigns by ethno-nationalist regimes have become the common currency of a degraded and primitive discourse which puts appeals to the collective trauma and right to revenge of cross class tribal communities above the common need of working people for security and prosperity.

This need cannot be provided for either by an ethnic nationalist state like Israel which permanently militarizes Jewish workers against their neighbors while subjecting them to increasingly unconstrained exploitation3. Nor by an ethnic militia like Hamas which oversaw the mushrooming of a whole strata of black market millionaires amidst the acute deprivation of a blockaded Gaza4.

All these ethnic-sectarian rackets can offer is a cynical practice of escalating blood sacrifice in which mass killing according to ethnic belonging cements the false sense of community between the dispossessed and the exploiter in a common struggle for “sacred land” (to be owned by who?) and further excludes any possible solidarity among those who share an identical relation to the means of production. Internationalists can only refuse the blackmail of these reactionary forces and insist on a general right to armed self defense against nationalist and sectarian murder gangs regardless of what uniform they wear.

The recognition of such a right without any cowardly qualifications or partiality is the line of demarcation which separates the conciliators of nationalist barbarism from those who are committed against the odds to a resolute struggle for the progressive repolarization of the conflict. Arab and Jewish workers share an unconditional right to defend themselves against reactionary armed groups seeking their death or displacement as part of the bourgeois game of ethnic vendetta.

The reactionary institutions which set the terms of this game on the other hand have a right neither to defend themselves nor to exist. This is a general principle which applies not only to Israel/Palestine but everywhere the divisive schemes of the bourgeoisie have reached the point of open bloodshed. What workers need is unity and peace among all nationalities in the struggle for socialism. The enforcement of this right demands an iron hand against nationalist and sectarian racketeers applied without favor or discrimination.

Some will insist this proposal is “unrealistic”, “utopian”, or “abstract”. Those who will take this position only certify “concretely” that their sympathies are to be found with one or another of the reactionary gangs and not with our class.

Editorial Committee of Counter Attack
May 1st, 2024

  1. Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, Neuman, Marcuse, Kirchheimer, Princeton University Press, 2013. p 193.  

  2. Felix Morrow, Stalin Blames the German Proletariat, June, 1942, Fourth International, Vol. 3 No. 6, June 1942, pp. 186–191

  3. As Israeli journalist Nerve Gordon observed of that states current Prime Minister back in 1996: “Netanyahu’s real religion is privatization…” Spook, Terrorist or Criminal? America’s Mysterious Files on Netanyahu

  4. The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-Development, Sara Roy, Institute for Palestine Studies, 2016. p xliv.