On the surface, it appears that Zionism is a totally illogical thing for anyone to support, unless they’re a United States military strategist. It’s in effect a project to create and sustain a military outpost for U.S. imperialism, and “Israel” is the name of that base. This “country” wouldn’t exist if not for its existence being crucial to the geopolitical interests of the U.S. and its imperialist allies. The U.S. empire’s current president has as much as admitted to this, stating that if there weren’t an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent an Israel to secure its strategic access to the region. (Which is to say its ability to assassinate Iranian scientists, bomb Syria, and carry out destabilization schemes against Lebanon and Yemen through a proxy state.)
Zionism currently has a state due to the cold calculations of imperialism, which is an extension of capital and therefore represents the banal evil of exploitation. The endless war crimes, illegal annexations, forced displacement, and racist repression that we see Israel exact against the Palestinians are an extension of this banal evil, representing the self-interest of a parasitic minority socioeconomic class.
And it’s true that the U.S. bourgeoisie primarily benefit from the continuation of the Zionist colonial occupation. But if they were the only ones who benefited from it, Israel wouldn’t exist, and the same goes for all other existing settler-colonial states. When the capitalist ruling class seek to steal an indigenous territory for the sake of military, market, or extractive benefit, they don’t merely take this land and keep it all for themselves. They distribute much of it among a select group of favored people, promising that group the material benefits of settler-colonialism. This group gains access to cheap or free land, disproportionate opportunities within the economy the settler state sets up, and the ability to not be targeted by the discriminatory laws, policies, and cultural attitudes which settler-colonialism brings upon the disfavored groups. Because the settlers are made to be the only ones with substantial social power within the colonial structure’s ruling institutions, their sentiments are made to be the only ones that matter, and the discontent and rage of the subjugated groups is safely relegated to realms where it can be made impotent.
This is the nature of society for as long as the settler state remains intact. And whether in Israel, or the U.S., or Canada, or Western Sahara, or occupied Kashmir, or New Zealand, or Australia, or neo-colonial settler states like Brazil and Colombia, the fundamental evil of the settler-colonial project is accepted by those among the settler population who embrace the ruling ideology. They benefit from the continued subjugation of the colonized and the ethnically disfavored immigrant groups, so they tend to cling to the current social order. This can be true even if a settler is simultaneously a settler and a proletarian, or even part of capitalism’s reserve army of labor. As long as a settler perceives that their best interests lie in the preservation of the colonial structure—whether or not this is actually true for someone with their class status—they won’t question this structure. They’ll be susceptible to the reactionary narratives about the supposedly superior nation being under threat from malign enemy forces, and of there being a need to fight against this enemy by any means necessary.
This is how you get the “Blue Lives Matter” movement in reaction to the African liberation liberation struggle, or the Israeli rallies in defense of a jailed soldier who murdered a Palestinian in cold blood. All threats to the colonial order are seen as in need of being stamped out, because within colonialism’s supremacist mindset, the colonial order is objectively a good thing.
You can’t reason with someone who’s committed themselves to this racist worldview, at least not unless you invest gargantuan amounts of time and energy into changing them. But you can make the social order they defend logistically unable to be defended. You can make the economy that settler-colonialism depends on no longer able to work, cutting off its access to the global markets that capitalism requires to function. This is why Boycott Divestment Sanctions exists, and why you should read up on the list of Israeli-tied brands to boycott. It’s also (part of) why the anti-imperialist movement exists.
The equivalent of BDS when it comes to the United States is the effort throughout the formerly colonized world to assert independence from neo-colonial control, and to in turn deprive U.S. capital of the markets it needs to keep profits up. When China builds railways and electrical grids for African countries that lift them out of colonial impoverishment, and make them no longer dependent on U.S. predatory loans, that weakens the U.S. settler state’s capital. When Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba, or Bolivia fight off imperialist coup attempts, that contributes to this weakening by rendering U.S. imperialism unable to regain its lost extractive range. It’s a growing global boycott of the USA, incentivized by U.S. exploitation forcing the formerly colonized world’s people to assert their economic independence.
Mao said that over ninety percent of the global population will ultimately turn on imperialism. That remaining less than ten percent are the people who fly the Thin Blue Line flag, or who join Israel’s Hasbara online public relations project, or who repeat U.S. propaganda about anti-imperialist countries with no intentions of listening to pushback. They’re the global minority of political opportunists, obstinate bigots, labor aristocrats, and bourgeois or petty-bourgeois individuals who are fighting desperately to maintain the parasitic order they’ve staked their interests within. We don’t need to win them over. What they believe is relevant only insofar as understanding how they think helps us anticipate their maneuvers. They’re an endangered species, set to die out when the conditions that perpetuate their ideology become extinct.
Most Americans only believe the imperialist narratives this minority puts forth because their conditions have made these narratives all they know, and their thinking will change when their conditions change. Even if Americans as a whole technically benefit from imperialism, these benefits are vastly outweighed by the evils that capitalism exacts upon them. And when imperialism’s propaganda is discredited in their eyes, they’ll recognize that they would gain incomparably more from the establishment of socialism than from the continuation of capitalism.
Under settler-colonialism, establishing socialism is impossible without abolishing the settler state. This reality presents an obstacle to class consciousness among the settlers, because the settlers in certain ways have their interests tied to colonialism’s perpetuation. But in this stage of capitalism’s crisis, where capital has been forced to contract and impose neoliberal policies, these areas of the settler population’s material interests are mostly outweighed by the great material interest they have in proletarian revolution. Therefore, at least for the proletarians and lumpenproletarians among them, their best interests now lie not in continuing to defend the settler state the bourgeoisie have set up, but in allying with the Native, Black, Brown, and Asian diaspora communists who seek this state’s abolition. The settler state is a tool for cultivating a social base for the territorial grabs which capital requires to perpetuate itself. When capital inevitably becomes too weak to sustain the population, as is now happening, this social base vanishes.
I don’t know if the equivalent is true within Israel, where the settlers are overwhelmingly united in support of the colonial occupation’s continuation. But Israel is a tiny country, and will become vulnerable to the anti-colonial struggle when it loses not just the military support from a declining U.S. hegemon, but the market access from a world that’s turning against Zionism’s vile practices. We must build solidarity with all of the globe’s anti-imperialist efforts, expand and intensify BDS, and work to expose imperialism’s lies. We in the imperial center must also do the organizing and educational work required for proletarian revolution, which in our case necessitates a decolonial analysis. Then the foundations of colonialism and imperialism will fall out, and humanity will be able to progress towards a new stage in its development.
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