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Your election as seen from Berlin

Updated: Apr 10

A Letter Inspired by the British Elections (and sent to Morning Star) I see, re-reading it - too long and complex)

by Victor Grossman


Dear British friends,


I guess I have no business interfering in your elections. As an ex-pat US American, living in East Berlin since some disagreements with the US Amy during the dirty, dark period called the McCarthy Era, I have paid only occasional but fascinating visits to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, visiting relatives, seeing sights, talking with mostly left-wing people. But that is not much.


All the same I will try to slip in a word. The coming success or failure of Labour, especially the results for Jeremy Corbyn, are of extreme interest to leftists in all the world. His defiance, and that of all supporting him, have become a moving symbol of resistance to the power of amassed wealth everywhere. Such symbols, rare enough in recent years, must be treasured – and fought for!


Those involved, I am convinced, are not only torch-bearers in the daily fight for better living and working conditions for the underpaid, jobless, poorly housed or homeless, and for those discriminated against, important as that is. No, movements like those in your election campaign are part of a much bigger fight against three giant menaces! Firstly, the environmental calamity threatening us all, caused in great measure by a relatively small number of greedy giants.


Secondly, the calculated and manipulated campaigns of chauvinist, nationalist, racist hatred, to revive the brutal forces we thought were defeated in 1945, but which are now growing in almost every country of Europe and on every other continent as well, hungrily awaiting their big chances.


And thirdly, most dangerous of all, the possibility that some spark, on purpose (yes, those giants) or even accidental and misinterpreted, could set off another huge war, very likely a totally destructive atomic war. The muzzles of missile launchers on land, sea or in the air are frighteningly close to one another! A victory for Jeremy would inspire us in every country in opposing those three main threats.


I want to comment on a few other questions which are not purely British. The UK may soon end its membership in the EU. Is that good or bad? Many know that it was created largely to combat any move toward socialism in Western Europe and weaken its development or even existence in Eastern Europe. Both aims were successful. Its current plans, still basically reactionary, include a strong new army dominated by militarist forces in Germany. That, and its composition generally, hardly justify great enthusiasm about membership.


Some, however, on both sides of the Channel, think it better to fight the extreme right and its backers within the EU structure rather than outside it. It’s a complicated question, loaded as it is with nationalist currents. This could explain Corbyn’s long hesitation to stand firmly pro or con.


In my opinion the confusion and strong feelings on this question should not diminish the main struggles, here and there, inside or outside EU, to fight back for the rights of working people, never forgetting long range goals, and without being mired even more deeply in a question which is not central, and is easily misused as a distraction.


And then there is anti-Semitism. Since I myself, whilst not religious, am decidedly Jewish, and because I lived so many years in Germany, beginning less than a decade after Hitler took poison, I have always been extremely aware of all aspects of this issue. And I cannot believe that anyone seriously considers the internationalist Jeremy Corbyn, or his close associates, to be in any way anti-Semitic. Based on related discussions in Germany and the USA, I must wonder whether all the angry accusations are not just one more sleazy device based on very different reasons for attacking Jeremy.


Of course, opposing Israel’s government policies is not anti-Semitism, despite constant worldwide efforts to equate the two. Any long-time observer of world affairs knows that Israeli foreign policy included supplying substantial military and surveillance equipment to the bloodiest dictatorships in Central America, friendly military cooperation with apartheid South Africa, and support in the UN, to this day, almost alone, for the US blockade of Cuba.


A quadruple friendship now seems to be growing between Washington, El-Riad, “Jerusalem” and now Brasilia – a worrisome combination. I cannot understand how any decent person can expect a Labour Party worth its name to join Trump in supporting the switch from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Golan Heights conquest, the support of all illegal Jewish settlements and, most tragically, the bombing, with heaviest weapons, of isolated Gaza.


I have found an analogy; I supported the Burmese people fully in their fight against imperial rule. But I am forced today to hate Myanmar rulers’ atrocities against the dark-skinned Muslim Rohingyas.


The proper answer to anti-Semitic gangrene, a curse for a thousand years, would be an effort by all good people to combine opposition to it with a vigorous fight against Islamophobia, currently even more vicious, and against all racist bigotry, trying to unite working people everywhere in this endeavour, and especially supporting those now in underdog situations, from Bethlehem to Bolivia!


From all I have heard or read, that is a basic principle for Jeremy’s thinking and campaign. His fighting stance, against all attempts to water down the cause of socialism by tolerating or covertly aiding its wealth-packed enemies, serves well to aid our position here in the same noble direction! I cannot vote for JC & Co. but I can cheer them on!


November 19, 2019

Victor Grossman

Berlin, Germany

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