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.