All posts by Nagy Éva

Tamás Krausz: Hamas–Israel War: Anti-Capitalist Left or Islamo-left?

This short opinion article is written for those who would like to understand the directions and stakes of today’s global processes in the context of the ongoing wars.

The geopolitical aspect

Hamas’ war is not just the war of Hamas. Since the start of the
Russian-Ukrainian war, it is more obvious than ever that a new era has set in i.e. the period of the emergence and labor of a multipolar world order. This is the age of ‘proxy’ wars. This also means that the economic and political interdependence of the world system will lead a multitude of states to armed conflicts and wars. Armed confrontation is taking place in/between at least half a hundred states around the world. This new situation is adequately reflected by the rise of China and India and in the aspirations of many African states to extend their state sovereignty. The world is undergoing a process of market – economic and territorial redistribution. Dozens of states and multinational capitalist corporations are competing with each other: at stake is profit, and the struggle can take the forms of armament, violence, wars for markets, revival of religious conflicts, etc. On the surface there are very different political and class forces clashing; these struggles in different regions of the world system and also within certain nation states must be the subject of specific analyses.
As a consequence, the political, economic and military power
relations have transformed the world order. A clear sign of this
development is the inevitable military defeat of Ukraine, and the
weakening of the position of US, NATO and EU on the global stage. The reason of why the unfolding world war has not (yet?) entered a ‘nuclear phase’ destroying humanity is that it takes the form of ‘minor’ proxy wars. The Western center of the world system can no longer maintain its former dominant position, that is, the USA hegemony.

Whether this change is good or bad in terms of the power balance
within the world system, whether it is leading forward or rather
backwards, to a new ‘Middle Age’, is necessarily a complex question and not a matter taken for granted. But one thing is certain: this choice is part of the objective reality.
The Hamas-Israeli war fits in the constellation sketched above. It is, in fact, a proxy war by Iran and a number of other states or
organizations linked to Islam; a kind of rebellion against the West-
centered world order based on American hegemony and also against the forces seeking to reconcile with the existence of the State of Israel in the region. For them, Western hegemony in the Middle East is embodied by Israel. Iran, as a military ally of Russia, is expanding its own sphere of action through the war, not only by raising its profile/standing in the Middle East by pushing Hamas forward, but also by presenting its status as a ‘middle power’ vis-à-vis NATO, mainly Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and also as a ‘global player’, that is capable of raising the entire Muslim world through the armed actions of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Shiite terrorist groups. The declared aim of these ‘actions’ is the overthrow of the State of Israel and the eventual extermination of its population, as clearly stated by Hamas and Iranian leaders. The anti-imperialist protest movements and demonstrations in Western Europe are basically organized under the pull of Islamist ideology. This is mainly expressed in their blatantly anti-Semitic slogans.

While seeking to increase its prestige in the Muslim world, Russia
has no interest in the destruction of Israel. Russia as well as China
consider diplomatic negotiations as a solution in the wake of the
bloody Israeli backlash, which is ‘warranted’ by the US on the sea. In the chaos and confusion in the Middle East, many states, organizations and political movements from the ‘progressives’ to the Muslim Brotherhood are fishing in troubled waters and are trying to make their fortune, aggravating the ‘times of confusion’ to a global extent. The least discussed problem is what almost all states and organizations keep talking about and claiming as their banner: the problem of a ‘free Palestine’.

Political and class aspects

Since the defeat of Nazi Germany, the common starting point of anti-imperialism for the left has always been anti-fascist resistance, the avoidance of war, in short, the so-called peace policy. The left has never cooperated with terrorist organizations even if they committed their actions against civilians under the red banner.
With the weakening and final destruction of the Soviet Union, a well-known form of global Western hegemony has got strengthened and encouraged: unprecedented inequalities have been created within societies and between states. In a world unified under the rule of the USA and NATO, local societies in many places, including our own region, have ‘lost’ ways and structures of socialist thought and actions.
Almost everywhere they are replaced by different forms of ethno-
nationalist resistance, expressing the interests of local bourgeoises and their capitalist corporations in competition with global capital.
There is no doubt that the majority of the losers of the transformation have confronted the ruthless and repressive system of ‘globalism’ mainly in the semi-periphery and periphery of the world system. In the meantime, globalism has justified itself with the slogans of democracy, independence and human rights. On the other hand, in line with their geopolitical interests, Western regimes themselves have contributed to, and in many cases even financed, the emergence and rise of ethno-nationalist authoritarian regimes and dictatorships.
These regimes have united the majority of local societies under the banner of ‘national interest’, ‘national independence’ and religious slogans, and at the same time they have taken over the representation of the traditional social demands from the disintegrated, largely ‘liberalized’ left. This tendency has taken different forms in Eastern Europe, in the Muslim world and in many countries in Latin America, where the traditional left has retained most of its positions.

With regard to the role of the West, I would like to single out a few
typical examples that highlight its role and share in the ‘resurgence’ of both authoritarian and ethno-nationalist developments in the ‘semi-periphery’. One is that after the destruction of the Soviet Union, the West, and above all the US, supported the coup d’état of the presidential, i.e. executive, power in Russia against the legitimate parliamentary-legislative power in October 1993. The basic reason and aim of this was the privatization of Soviet state property, which was partly obstructed by the legitimate parliament. Nevertheless, the ‘European orientation’ of the Russian power elites, their ‘accession to Europe’, was ridiculed and, of course, prevented by the West, above all by the United States, despite all the former promises. Indeed, in response to the ‘hunger’ of global capital, from the mid-1990s onwards, it resolutely embarked on a new Cold War policy of ‘encircling’ Russia, which took the form above all of the extremely rapid expansion of NATO. And Ukraine was transformed into an ‘anti-Russia’ by the resurrection of the spirit and military representatives of Ukrainian fascism, Bandera et al. Support for the Russophobic, pro-Nazi regime in Ukraine was, of course, sold to the world public with the ideology of extending democracy and independence. On this occasion, I can only mention the Western policy and the consequences of the illegal bombing of Yugoslavia, with international law being tossed aside, and the emergence of many small nationalist states, which then lined up like pious piglets at the European (EU, NATO) trough.
Similarly, the NATO bombing of the Asian, mainly Arab, world
regimes (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria) has opened the way for the ethno-nationalist and a kind of "medieval" Islamist development referred to above. On the other hand, we can also observe the ‘icing’ of a region with a host of unresolved problems in the world system in the interests of the old colonial powers, above all in Africa.
As part of all this, almost everywhere, movements critical of the
system have ‘died out’ or been weakened. By way of example, all this was already haunting the clerical dictatorship in Iran, which was created in the wake of the Islamic revolution against the ‘globalist West’ and the ‘communist East’, and one of its first achievements was to wipe out the communist Tudeh party and all socialist movements critical of the system. And decades later, after the ‘Arab Spring’, development almost everywhere returned – in a certain sense – to a ‘premodern’ state.
This did not leave the Middle East untouched, where the major powers and the Arab ‘oil states’ did not help to prevent any solution to the Palestinian problem. The decade-long tug-of-war between Israeli governments and the Palestinian authorities over the UN’s ‘two-state’ concept could not succeed because the Arab states refused to finance the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel, on the other hand, invoked the fact that the Arab states, and above all the Palestinian authorities, did not recognize the existence of the State of Israel, which in turn led to the strengthening of far-right political groupings in Israel: they refused to limit the occupation of the West Bank by Jewish settlers.
While Ukraine as a ‘Western project’ has become a means of dragging Russia into the war, extremist Islamic fundamentalism – not infrequently referred to as ‘Islamo-fascism’ – in the form of Hamas or the Iranian clerical regime, would globalize the Islamist forms of resistance we are already witnessing. Hamas has elevated the destruction of Israel and its population to the practical political level by hiding behind the freedom movement of the Palestinian people.
The terrorist organization would also sacrifice 'its own' population on the altar of the destruction of Israel and its population, using the tools of the suicide death cult, of unrestrained dictatorial ‘Islamism’, and, as the events of 7 October showed, the most horrific methods of killing unimaginable to ordinary human imagination.

The political ‘solution’

Similarly to several other, decade-long political conflicts involving
multiple actors and having many geopolitical, social and cultural
aspects, any solution will only be possible through the combined
efforts of "many actors". In the present case, there is a clash of multiple power and class interests that mutually exclude each other.
For the left, too, the conflict has been and remains a subject of
divisive debate from the onset. The left in a global sense, i.e. mainly the social democrats and communists, has consistently recognized the existence of the State of Israel since 1948 on the basis of a 1947 UN resolution, although it has always underlined its adherence to the ‘two-state concept’. The exception from this view was a section of the various Trotskyist and other so-called radical anti-capitalist organizations, which only saw and still see Israel as a ‘Stalinist project’. These organizations, like the Palestinian authorities and some of the Arab and Muslim states, are thinking only in terms of ‘one state’, as well as the extreme right forces and groups in Israel; but they can only envisage one Jewish state.
At the same time, however, the system critical left insisted on the right of the Palestinians to statehood even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, condemned Israeli expansionism in the West Bank and defended the 1967 borders. Simultaneously, the struggle for the rights of the Palestinian people, as indicated above, has always influenced the geopolitical machinations of the great powers and the fruitless struggle between the Palestinian and Israeli power elites. It is no coincidence that even the so-called liberal ‘progressives’ and queers have lined up behind the slogan of ‘Free Palestine’ in their naive way, they are even shouting with the demonstrating crowds the slogan: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, the slogan calling for the destruction of Israel, even if some of the protesters may not understand what they are demanding.

On the anti-capitalist left, the ‘Palestinian cause’ has become a
fundamental issue of global politics over the course of many decades.
Although the Palestinian cause has now been stripped off all socialist content, the general democratic requirement of national sovereignty remains a fundamental issue. However, behind the change one important circumstance has been ‘at work’ all along: while the restoration of the national sovereignty of the Palestinian people remains a fundamental issue of the struggle, the ‘control’ over it has long since passed on from the global left to the influence of Islamic fundamentalism. This ‘control’ can only be ‘taken back’ from Hamas and Iran, i.e. from the Islamic fundamentalism, by exposing them to a radical critique. There is no other way. All other ways lead to nowhere.
Namely, the destruction of the State of Israel, which is the basic
demand of Islamic fundamentalism in the current war, presupposes in principle the extermination of the Jews on a global scale. It is, of course, an illusory demand, but a beckoning word for those who are playing with anti-Semitism in their struggle against the ‘godless’ power of the West. Let us not forget that one of the most popular publications in Islamic countries today is Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Hamas’ documents express this murderous ambition with raw
sincerity, and it is expressis verbis stated in its ‘constitution’. Actually, they symbolically-practically began to implement this part of its program on 7 October. Those on the radical left who, for tactical reasons, conceal this fact, do not distance themselves from ‘Islamo-fundamentalism’, are, in fact, handing over the anti-capitalist cause to the Islamist cooperation with the far right: this way socialism and the anti-capitalist critique of the system is replaced by anti-Semitism and the language of racism. London and New York, Paris and Berlin have given us certain well-defined impressions of the new global anti- Semitic wave. The most common argument in order to justify cooperation with Islamic fundamentalism is that Iran, the main supporter of Hamas, is objectively an ally of the left in the geostrategic clash with the West. If the Russian power elite tries to legitimate their deeds with this argument, it may be understandable in the logic I have explained above. But this is a completely false argument on the part of the anti-capitalist left, since the anti-capitalist left, as a global set of autonomous organizations, has never in its history cooperated in any form with the extreme right. If this were to
happen, as we have stressed above, it would be a death sentence for the global left.
On this issue, the anti-capitalist left can, in the short term, advocate the ‘two-state concept’, renunciation of violence, and the dominant role of peace and diplomacy, if it does not wish to become a champion of either great power manipulation, Israeli nationalism or Islamic fundamentalism. Of course, the real solution in terms of prospects in the region can only be a socialist federation based on economic, social, and political autonomy and, in general, social emancipation of the peoples living there.


In Memoriam Győző Lugosi (1952-2021)

Our friend, Győző Lugosi – historian, social scientist, educator, culture worker, editor, former Associate Professor at ELTE University of Budapest – succumbed to complications he developed from a Covid19 infection on April 7, 2021. This is an unfathomable loss for his family, friends, colleagues, students, all his loved ones. After a twenty-eight-year service as editor, managing editor, and author, he left a sore void for the editorial collective of our journal, Eszmélet (Consciousness) as well. He was a deeply committed exponent of the journal and the ideas it represents. We know few examples of such engagement and responsibility in the field of scholarly journals in Hungary.

What he did, he did wholeheartedly and with devotion. That is why he never complained about the arduous, rarely rewarding work of the text editor. He has always worked for the intellectual and social causes of our journal – principles he had held since his youth.

In addition to his public activities, he has always had time for his family. The five children he left behind could testify to that. In addition to his family, he managed to find ways to engage in a broad range of undertakings. In addition to his leading role with Eszmélet, and his job at the University, he served as the Director of the Kossuth Klub (one of post-state-socialist Budapest’s leading cultural institutions that serve the cause of public scholarship), he was an active member of the board of the Free Press Foundation, he accepted an appointment as Vice President of the International Georg Lukács Foundation. He was a coordinator of the Attila József Open University and held a host of other social functions.

It is no exaggeration to say that Győző has always stood with the poor, the excluded, the oppressed, and the persecuted. There was not a trace of career consciousness or narcissistic performance ambitions in him. He was not “a hero of our time.”
He had a very broad and eclectic set of scholarly interests. He was a firm proponent of the world-systems perspective, with Samir Amin and István Mészáros as his two main intellectual interlocutors. From his youth, he had been strongly influenced by the legacies of the Enlightenment and rationalism—solidified in his location in the French Marxist tradition. In addition to Magyar, his main working languages were French—he had strong connections in the Francophone world—and English. His main area interests were focused on the “Middle East” and north Africa, but he has also written brilliant studies on post-socialist small pseudo-churches that work as business corporations, various aspects of Marxist social theory, and on racism. His writings are suffused with an unflinching, genuine commitment to social equality and a broad sense of the idea of liberty.

His love of nature and friendship with animals were legendary. He was considered to be a great expert of wild mushrooms—we are not sure how he found the time for practising that skill. He was a gleeful, excellent cook, often hosting his friends and colleagues – including members of the journal’s editorial and advisory boards – with great gusto. He valued community not only in public but also private life.

It is impossible to write an objective obituary for Győző. He approached the craft of a scholar with humility and respect. He treated his students with much attention and empathy. He brimmed with helpfulness, emotions and a genuine curiosity about others and the world. He never promoted himself to the detriment of others. His quiet, patient and peaceful demeanor was matched only by his resolution and readiness for debate. He was a teacher who never hid his activism. Using an old term: he was a true movement organizer.

A man of strong emotions, he was also to some extent defenseless against malice. He had a certain naiveté—who doesn’t? He would see only the good in people he would “fall in love” with, only to “fall out” of some genuinely good friends. He was not easy to offend though. On the contrary, he knew how to argue very well, he had enormous spiritual strength. He would defend the honor of Eszmélet, and his own, and even those who took offense never questioned his professionalism and commitment.

He knew how to love intensely. Hate was alien to him.
He only hated hatred. He could not stand any form of social exclusion or inequality. He abhorred hatred of the Roma—his commitment to the case of Roma rights was legendary. As Director of Kossuth Klub, he embraced the best traditions of self-help, the socially progressive effects of art and adult education, and organized exhibitions of Roma artists.

He fought against all forms of marginalization. He was a deeply committed antifascist, and it was that conviction that drove his work as an adult educator. He loathed all forms of anti-semitism, Islamophobia, Russophobia, i.e., racism, which he interpreted as the destruction of class consciousness. He read nationalism and neoliberal globalism as two sides of the same coin. As a historian, he was fully aware of the global historical roots of those phenomena. As a well prepared “Tiers-Mondist,” not only did he study the hierarchical-oppressive structure of the world-system; he also criticized those contradictions with strong critical edge and editorial attentiveness. He was particularly incensed by “Eurocentric” perspectives that naturalize the “West’s” rule over the world while sloganeering about “democracy” and “human rights.”

Győző’s life did not feature any dramatic political reversals. Throughout his life, he was a man of the Left, and the collapse of state socialism did not shake his Marxist outlook. He has never belied his progressive origins – he was a proud man with nothing to confess, and a straight shooter. We all loved him. It is very hard to take leave of him.

Almost all his life he worked for the Humanities Faculty at ELTE University in Budapest. His students respected him as a teacher who did all he could to pave the way for their progress. Many of them have given touching testimony about that. As his fellow co-editors and advisors at Eszmélet, we were very attached to him.
The career of Győző, our friend, is over. It is now the responsibility of the editors of Eszmélet to take account of and fortify the legacies of his oeuvre in the interest of the wretched, the oppressed, the working and the excluded majority of the world’s societies. He was convinced that capitalism, with its genocidal character, used not to exist and won’t exist forever. So, Győző dedicated his entire life to a communally organized, collectively liberating society; this is the stand that defined his conduct in his private life as well as in his public engagements. That is our cause as well. Eszmélet and many of Győző’s disciples will carry it forward.

The Editors and Advisory Board of Eszmélet

István Mészáros: Reflections on the New International

Also Peter Gowan wrote that the incorporation of East Europe into the capitalist world system is highly similar to imperialism. The starting point of the study of István Mészáros is ((that)) structural crisis of the system of capitalist production specifically falls into military interventions, in which globalized capital (which disposes the strongest positions in the so called postmodern countries) turns against modern and pre-modern regions 

“in order to perpetuate their so-called »liberal imperialisms and the total domination of the militarily less powerful countries by unleashing »death and destructions.”


According to the study, despite former experiences there are positive preconditions nowadays to organize a more combative International.

Eszmélet periodical, No. 101 (Spring 2014)