As everyone knows, consciousness does not develop evenly, not even during eras of upheaval which ours definitely is. The path to a clear, consistent, articulated, systemic radical leftism often detours through a lot of goofy pit-stops.
Just because a movement, trend, or organization doesn’t have perfect positions on everything doesn’t mean that it’s not playing an overall progressive role, and that it’s not a critical part of the radicalization process at a mass scale. After all, the really-existing masses are never going to agree with us well-read nitpicking leftists about everything. We need to get a majority (not all) of people on board with the key things, and otherwise try as hard as we can, and take what we get.
Some of these detours of consciousness on the path to consistent radicalization are bizarre, possibly even hostile things like Libertarianism, Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous, conspiracy theory, politicized New Agers, and literally anything you can imagine, not to mention the million tendencies within the ideological/organized Left itself (both socialism AND anarchism). These things may not precisely be the Left, but our paths cross. Perhaps not at the “cadre” level, but at a wider level, the populations overlap.
I do not think the contemporary Left is anti-semitic. Most Leftists are very good about being consistently anti-racist, instead of picking-and-choosing. However, some of the circles with which the Left overlaps definitely have a growing anti-Semitism problem.
Sometimes conspiracy-oriented people can co-exist quite well with Leftism. After all, most Leftists agree that the government lies to us all the time, does horrible things in secret, and is controlled by a tiny, wealthy elite. This isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s just the basics of politico-economics. However the clashes often begin when conspiracy theorists begin talking about “Zionists.”
“Zionists.” It is true, Zionism (the belief in a Jewish homeland) is a really awful political doctrine at the center of one of the world’s most visible violent conflicts. Some argue there is a form of non-violent, non-supremist Zionism which simply argues Jews should live in Israel in co-existence with other peoples. In casual use, though, Zionism has come to stand for the Israeli policy of Jews-only, of a Jewish-supremist society, oddly similar to the German-only policies which spawned the Israeli state in the first place.
But when conspiracy theorists talk about “Zionists,” they often mean ALL JEWS. Or they conflate the two sloppily, they don’t distinguish. Some of them don’t really mean what they’re saying when confronted (and we MUST CONFRONT THEM). Unfortunately, what this does is it allows an opening for real actual anti-Semites and anti-Semitism to spread, even the various bizarre modern Nazi hybrids.
We need to be clear why the USA supports and funds Israel. It’s not because America is controlled by Jews. The US supports Israel because it’s nice to have a fanatical military base in a region full of oil. Israel can even go overboard, play the part of the “loyal front-line soldier who has to deal with reality on the ground,” leading to bizarre situations in which Netanyahu chastises American officials. But the Israeli Jews are not the ones in charge. AIPAC doesn’t really matter next to global imperialism, and all the money connected to it. The US elite could pull Israeli funding at any time. They don’t, and they play along with the excesses and abuses, because to contradict Israel would be to contradict their own actual position. So “Zionists” are not Jews, Jews and not “Zionists.” The Zionist project is a specific puppet of the USA which not all Jews even support anymore, especially young ones.
For anyone who needs me to state the obvious, you can oppose Israel without being an anti-Semite, and without believing the US supports Israel because of powerful Jews. However, during the recent war between Hamas and Israel, many pro-Gaza and anti-Israel protests took a specifically anti-Semitic turn in France, Germany, and Italy. Sadly this is not due mainly to Europe’s remaining-and-resurgent Nazi weirdos (besides in Greece, it is their fault), but probably due to Arab and Muslim immigrant populations in Europe. This is another circle the Left overlaps with as we oppose imperialism, but we must confront anti-Semitism here, too.
ANTI-SEMITISM IS THE WORST POSSIBLE THING FOR THE LEFT. It is absolutely toxic. This is for three main reasons.
(1) ANTI-SEMITISM’S BASIC ASSUMPTIONS ARE INCORRECT, AS I WILL SHOW BELOW. Jews do not, in fact, control everything, and anti-Semitism therefore MAKES US LOOK CRAZY.
(2) YEAH RACISM IS BAD AND PEOPLE WILL THINK WE ARE BAD.
(3) ANTI-SEMITISM’S MOST INSIDIOUS EFFECT IS TO DERAIL THE WORLD’S GROWING CLASS ANGER TOWARD A SINGLE WEALTHY ETHNICITY INSTEAD OF THE ENTIRE GLOBAL RULING CLASS. This one needs explication.
Is the perception that “Jews control everything” just insanity coming out of nowhere? Actually not entirely, but it’s definitely way overboard. It has a slight material basis.
46% of Jews in the USA have a household income of $100,000 per year or more. This is in contrast to roughly 20% of Americans as a whole having that same high income range. Basically Jews are slightly more than twice as likely as the rest of people here to be part of the petit bourgeois elite.
However, if you compare the difference between, say, black and white incomes in the United States, the disparity is horrifying there, too. If you’re any kind of real Leftist, the answer is not to attack Jews (or attack white people, who are still 72% of the United States). The answer is to demand a system of justice which uplifts everyone.
Historically, this semi-wealthy/mercantile/professional role has been the role which Jews have played around the world. (No, that’s not a link to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) Because in ancient times Jews were such an oppressed and displaced people, they actually gained an edge in becoming some of the world’s first entrepreneurs. Since trade tends to emerge between societies rather than within societies, the people who have been moved all over the place are the perfect candidates for becoming a merchant people, and thus also a race of professionals. Also being one of the world’s first “religions of the book” might have helped in terms of a tendency toward literacy and intellectual skills.
Some people complain that Jews do each other favors and manipulate situations to take care of each other. You know what? It’s true, I’m not stupid or politically correct — I’ve seen it. But this would only make them like any other ethnicity, including most other white people. Racial grouping in competition for jobs is a fact of capitalism. The reality of the “complexion connection” will just not die until people stop fearing for their livelihoods. Right-wing hatred of Jews is especially contradictory, since (some) Jews are really doing nothing more than succeeding at capitalism and living the American dream.
But what is the American ruling class racially? It is white, white, white – and while Jews are disproportionately part of it more than any other ethnicity, in absolute numbers Jews are completely drowned out by non-Jewish whites. When we finally get the pitchforks and round up the rich, it won’t be a second Holocaust – we will be killing whitey. (Don’t worry, my fellow palefaces and Tumblr-haters, it will be a very rich and specific whitey.)
Let’s not resort to shit politics while we fight shit politics. Why? You may think that indulging in shit makes you stronger against other shit. No, it doesn’t. Actually, we live in a world where all shit reinforces other shit. Zionism stokes anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitism stokes more Zionism. Imperialism stokes more dictatorship, and vice versa, and they use each other to justify themselves. So just affirm something good, affirm the idea that different peoples can live in peace, or even productive cooperation in building society. Maybe those “coexist” bumper stickers aren’t so liberal after all.